Kim and Shego were getting dressed by the hot spring that they had come across a few of hours earlier. They had not spent much time lounging in the spring. They had gotten in the water a couple of times, but they had not relaxed in it much, preferring to do other activities to unwind. They would have done that all night more than likely, but that would have been a good way for Kim to get sick considering how she would have been getting into the hot water and then out of it again and again. So, they were now getting dressed.
Kim was no longer shy about her body and did not go behind a shrub to get dressed, which Shego noted. Before, when they had come to the hot spring, the younger female had gotten undressed behind a bush and even went so far as to request that Shego not look when she had gotten into the water. The redhead was not making any such requests now. She knew that it would have been silly for her to do and she was very, very comfortable with her body now.
Shego was done first and just watched the olive-eyed warrior straighten out her clothing. As soon as Kim was done, Shego grabbed her and embraced her. She held the smaller female for no reason, but Kim was not going to complain. They both thoroughly enjoyed the close contact. Shego leaned down and kissed the samurai for no reason too, which Kim was also not going to complain about. If anything, she hoped more unnecessary actions like that occurred.
The duo still was not sure what to consider themselves. The concept of a couple did not even come to mind because they both had very distinct pictures of what a couple was. Their pictures were quite similar to each other too, as they both imagined a couple to be a man and woman who were married and in love with each other. They were not even sure how they felt about each other either. They did not have a word to put to it anyway, but they really did not care much about that anymore. They did not need a label.
“So, we’re going to get moving, kitsune?” Shego asked in a whisper. It was like she really did not want to move, but it was necessary.
“I guess so. Maybe we’ll find some place to stay,” Kim answered.
“Hopefully,” the pale woman concurred. She did not have any desire to sleep on the ground, although she would just continue walking before lying in the dirt. Well, she reminded herself that if she kept walking, she would not be able to curl up with her little fox and cuddling up with the redhead trumped everything as far as she was concerned.
They started off in the direction that they had been heading before they stopped at the hot spring. Shego made sure that she kept her arm around Kim and the redhead leaned against her as they traveled through the forest. They did not make it far before two huge men came out of nowhere, blocking their path. The men jumped out from behind some thick bushes and trees. The shrubbery had been very good cover because the ladies hardly noticed the two men before they showed themselves.
“Something stupid is about to happen,” Kim muttered.
“Gee, ya think?” Shego remarked sarcastically.
The two men were wearing black masks over their faces and they had the air of being bandits about them, but something was wrong in the ladies opinions and they figured out quickly. The men while gigantic were not armed. Oh, they hoped that the guys were asking for directions then or those fellows were going to be in a lot of pain, although weapons would have only hurt them more in the end because that would only irk the ladies further.
“You girls look nice. How about you hang out with me and my friend, Steel Toe?” the man on the left suggested while pointing to his partner.
“Steel Toe?” Kim echoed. There was someone traveling the planet with the name “Steel Toe”? Who was handing out nicknames when he came along or was it all just a cruel joke?
“Why me?” Shego sighed. Really, why did everything have to be annoying just when she was enjoying herself? She knew that running into a man with the epithet Steel Toe and his friend in the middle of the night in a forest was just going to be the very definition of irksome.
“Did he really say his friend’s name was Steel Toe?” Kim asked in disbelief.
Shego motioned down to the guy’s foot for Kim to see that things got even more ridiculous. Kim looked down to see that the guy on the right was wearing a slipper made of metal along with a lone zori. So, people were actually that stupid, huh?
“And who are you? Empty Head?” Shego guessed, speaking to the unnamed fellow.
“The name’s Pain King,” he answered with a growl. At least his head was not so empty that he missed when he was being insulted, the pale woman thought, but then again, that was not saying much considering how direct the insult was.
“Well, excuse me, Oja-sama (1),” Shego said in a very mocking manner. She would have bowed to further her mockery of him, but she did not even feel like putting forth the effort for that. She just wanted the men to get out of the way, so she and Kim could find some place to cuddle and sleep in peace.
“Look, if you don’t want to get hurt, just give us everything you have on you,” Pain King ordered the pair in a forceful tone.
“Well, we damn sure couldn’t give you the things we don’t have on us, now could we?” Shego quipped and she seemed to confuse them for a moment with that question. The two would-be robbers were silent for a couple of seconds.
“And get undressed since you want to be a smart aleck,” Steel Toe added in to respond to her inquiry.
“Yeah, that’s not likely to happen,” Kim commented dryly while rolling her eyes.
“Not with them around anyway,” Shego remarked. “Look, guys, we’ll give you a sporting chance. If you turn around and run away right now, I won’t follow you and make you walk funny for the rest of your life.”
The two men laughed as if the green-skinned woman had just told them a joke. Shego glanced at Kim and they both smirked at each other before turning their attention back to the two idiots. They could not see the guys’ expressions due to the masks, but they were willing to bet that the looks were stupid.
“I don’t think they’re going to take your offer,” Kim said to Shego.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t want them to,” the pale woman replied with a smile.
“I didn’t think you did,” the redhead replied.
“You know me too well, Princess.”
The men took steps toward them; apparently, they were going to force the items that they wanted from the ladies. Steel Toe went to Kim while Pain King approached Shego. The hulking men cracked their knuckles and chuckled. Kim and Shego could not help looking amused; those guys did not know what they had just willingly walked into.
Pain King had the nerve to grab a hold of Shego by the fold of her kimono. He shook her a little bit, seeming to find it funny because he laughed while doing it. Shego failed to see the humor yet, but when she raked her claw-like nails across his forearm and broke the skin quite deeply, she was starting to see the comedy. He hissed in pain and backed away, making sure to let go of the demon woman while he was at it.
“Yeah, you certainly are the king of pain,” Shego stated because she bet those gashes hurt like hell.
Steel Toe had grabbed Kim at about the same time that his partner had taken hold of Shego. He had his hand resting on Kim’s shoulder and he began caressing her limb. She grabbed his wrist, rather offended by his actions, and flung him over her shoulder with surprising ease. He went flying into a tree.
“You are a strong little thing,” Shego commented when she saw the move.
“Lots of heavy training,” the redhead replied as if it was nothing.
“Are you sure you’re not a fox spirit?” the raven-haired female teased.
“Are you sure you’re not a demon?” Kim countered.
“A demon would’ve cut the arm completely off, not just scratch him,” Shego pointed out.
Kim shrugged because her companion had a point. They then had to turn their attention away from each other as their opponents came back at them, for more embarrassment and agony as the two ladies looked at it. They were happy to oblige; hopefully, they would teach those morons that every pair of females they saw alone at night in the woods were not defenseless. In fact, women alone at night in the woods probably were more dangerous than anything the guys could run into considering the fact that the females were brazen enough to be out in the dark in some thick woods. Obviously, the guys did not think in such a manner.
Shego went at Pain King with some solid hand strike moves. She did not even bother to ignite her hands, feeling that he was not worthy of that honor. He tried to get a hand on her, looking to hold her. She was not about to allow that to happen and made sure to move around while nailing him with hit after hit.
Kim was doing pretty much the same thing with Steel Toe. She did have to avoid his metallic slipper, which he was trying to kick her with. She was much too quick for him, though; there was also the fact that he was slow because of his size. She moved out of the way as he was going to grab her and she kicked him across the face since he bent down some.
Pain King and Steel Toe fell into each other after taking a solid licking from Shego and Kim. The ladies stood opposite them, waiting for them to make some more moves. The men pushed off of each other and went back at their opponents, growling in anger as they charged the women warriors.
Shego ducked Pain King as he came close to her and tried to yank her into a bear hug. She then brought herself back up when he was over her and grabbed him by the waist. She used his momentum to fling him over her and into a tree. He grunted as he impacted the plant.
Kim continued to go at Steel Toe with some rapid kick moves. She looked at it as showing him how to do a proper kick, but he did not seem to be taking to the tutorial. He seemed to think that just because he had that metal slipper that all he needed to do was land a shot and that would be it. Little did he know, but she was not going to let him land any blow. She just came in with a steady line of torso high kicks until he fell back with aching ribs and forearms; his limbs were injured from trying to block her strikes.
“This isn’t as much fun as I thought it would be,” Shego commented. It was not fun to beat up on people that could not at least hit back. It was like bullying, even though the bandits were the ones that started it.
“Maybe they’ll run away,” Kim replied to lift her companion’s spirits. She understood how Shego felt. They were warriors; they were not looking to just kick around those weaker than they were. So, with luck, those halfwits would run off and they could continue on their way.
“I doubt it. These guys don’t mark me as the smart type,” the pale woman stated.
“What makes you say that?”
“Mostly the fact that they’re walking around with the names Pain King and Steel Toe. They might as well tattoo the word ‘baka’ (2) across their foreheads while they’re at it.”
Kim shrugged; she could not argue with that logic. It helped the argument that the two men were getting back up and coming at them again. It would seem that they were going to have to really hurt the “gentlemen” to get their point across.
The two bandits went at their respective opponents again, much to the ladies’ dismay. Shego and Kim both decided that they were not even up to bothering with the guys anymore. They attacked the fellows very seriously and did not let up, even if they noticed the guys wobbling. They just continued on wailing on the fellows until they fell down and could not get back up.
“Well, that was pointless,” Kim muttered while brushing dust off of her kimono for lack of a better thing to do, especially since their “opponents” were on the ground. She could not even bring herself to consider them real opponents; they were like training posts.
“Very,” Shego concurred and then she turned her attention to the fallen would-be thieves. “You two stay there and think about what you’ve done and if I see you again, I’m going to make sure it’s the last time I see you,” she threatened them.
“Shego,” her redheaded companion gasped, as if she was aghast to hear such words from her lover.
“What?” the pale woman inquired, acting as if she did not know what she just threatened the men with.
“Don’t say things you don’t mean.”
“Ah, what are you, my mother now?” Shego countered with teasing look on her face.
“No, come on. Let’s just go,” Kim suggested.
Shego nodded and decided to not even waste her breath on the collapsed idiots. She stepped over to Kim and took charge of the redhead’s shoulder, as usual. Kim leaned into her and they walked off into the night, hoping to find some place to bed down for the night.
Pain King and Steel Toe just lay on the ground, in serious agony. They knew that they should get up and get revenge on those girls, but they just could not do so at the moment. They could not even move at the moment. They refused to be made fools of by little girls, though. They silently vowed to get the two females back.
“What are you two doing lying down on the job like this? I knew I shouldn’t have left you alone,” a short man commented as he approached the beaten pair.
The newcomer was a very short brunette fellow. He was dressed in blue yukata with a darker blue haori (3). He had on a pair of geta, which made him look just a little taller than he actually was, but he was still short. He was puffing on a pipe and frowning slightly because his employees were laid out in a very shameful manner.
“It’s nothing, Jackie-sama,” Pain King answered as he and his partner tried to sit up.
“It looks like something. What happened to you two?” the short man, Jackie, inquired.
“It was nothing,” Steel Toe repeated.
“No, no, no, tell me what happened. We can’t have you two getting beaten up. It makes the whole deal we got going kind of bad. After all, how are you ever going to pay me back all the money you lost for me in those fights if you don’t work right?” Jackie pointed out.
“It was…well, it was these two broads,” Pain King reluctantly admitted.
“Two broads? You mean to tell me that two broads did this to you?” Jackie asked in disbelief. What were they, monster women or something?
“Yeah,” Steel Toe answered. “But, they weren’t no regular broads,” he added.
“Right, they were deadly. I mean, one of them was carrying three swords,” Pain King said. He had noticed the swords on Kim’s hip when they first encountered the ladies, but did not think anything of it. It seemed like a good excuse to use now, though.
“So what? She’s still just a broad and you two still work for me. Now, we could make some money with those broads and they might have been carrying money, so let’s go get them,” Jackie ordered.
Pain King and Steel Toe cringed at the thought of facing those two harpies again. It seemed like it was going to be a must, though. After all, Jackie was the boss. Maybe they could think of a way out of it, even though thinking was not their strong point.
“They were running pretty fast when they left,” Steel Toe commented.
“So? We can still catch them. So, get up and show me which way they went,” Jackie commanded the pair.
Pain King and Steel Toe let out very small groans. They pointed in the direction that the ladies went in and then slowly climbed to their feet when they saw that Jackie was waiting for them to get up. They all walked off in the direction of Kim and Shego. The large pair silently prayed that they did not locate the girls.
Kim and Shego had not been lucky enough to find an unoccupied home to camp in for the night, but they had come across a small cave that could fit both of them. Kim did not mind the space, but Shego was against not having a futon to sleep on. There was nothing that could be done about that, though, so she decided not to complain. Besides, she was going to get to hold Kim all night to keep her warm, so that made up for any lack of bed in her opinion.
The couple did curl up together in the cavern after Shego started a fire for some light. She did prefer not to have to act as a lantern for the whole night, which was why she had built the small fire. She then settled her back against the wall opposite the fire and gathered Kim up in her arms.
They then shared a meal together, which was just a couple of rice balls. They had food from when they were at the village that they saved from that foreigner and his killer plants. They also had canteens with fresh water from the village.
They did not start any conversations, but they did not need to. They were happy just being close to each other. It was like when they were back at the teahouse. They were totally comfortable with each other, maybe even at peace around each other again. They could not help wondering what the feeling was that the other gave them and even though they could not identify it, they knew that they wanted it to stay forever.
Kim glanced up at Shego and was about to say something, but she decided against it. Shego had given her word and was obviously an honorable person. She could not request what she had been about to say to the older woman. She could not ask that Shego throw away her honor for her. It just would not be right, she told herself.
Shego noticed Kim look at her, but she did not know that Kim was going to ask something of her. She did move her hand that was supporting Kim’s back up to the redhead’s neck to caress the area. She propped her leg up to support Kim’s back.
While Shego rubbed Kim’s neck, the redhead occupied her time with touching Shego inside her kimono. Shego was glad that Kim was comfortable with doing such things now. She was also glad that if she got the urge to do the same thing, Kim would not pull away. They both sighed contently.
And then, they both tensed. They could tell that people were approaching them. They looked at each other, as if silently asking could those guys actually be dumb enough to follow them. They nodded; yeah, those guys were probably dumb enough to follow them. Why them, they both wondered.
“I guess people don’t see the importance in thinking anymore,” Shego commented.
“Thinking, what’s that?” Kim asked sarcastically.
“Okay, let’s just knock them out and be done with them,” Shego stated. She wanted everything over fast, so they could get back to cuddling and caressing. It was the highlight of her night and she damn sure was not going to let two brain-dead giant monkeys mess that up for her.
Kim did not argue that because she did not want to be bothered by the bandits anymore and she wanted to get back to what they were doing too. She did enjoy being close to Shego, feeling her body heat and caressing her. She wished that they could just stay like that, but, no, first they had to deal with bothersome morons. They exited the cave and decided to wait around for whoever was coming. A few seconds later, they could see Pain King and Steel Toe walking behind a rather short gentleman.
“What’s that with them, a sprite?” Shego remarked.
“Hey, are those the broads?” Jackie asked his two flunkies as he caught sight of the female duo.
“Did he just call us broads?” Kim inquired in a rather offended tone.
“I think he did,” Shego confirmed, just as insulted as her companion.
“Yeah, Jackie-sama, those are them,” Pain King affirmed.
“Hey,” Jackie said to the two ladies as he stood before pair. “You two, you did this to my guys?” he demanded to know.
“If you want the same, just say so. Ass kicking is our specialty,” the pale woman commented with a smirk while pointing at herself and her companion.
“I tell you what, you apologize to them and I won’t make you two look worse than these two idiots,” Jackie stated.
Shego had to laugh at that one. She would like to see someone that barely came up to her knees do anything to her. She was with the one person that could keep up with her, so she did not think that it was possible for anyone to get the better of her. And it would be the end of the world when she apologized to two morons because they were morons.
“Is he threatening us?” Kim asked curiously because she was not so sure. After all, how was she supposed to take someone that was like two feet tall seriously? She could kick him over the treetops right now.
“I thought it was a joke,” Shego answered.
“Fine, you want to do this the hard way? Get them, boys,” Jackie commanded his two lackeys.
“Get them?” Steel Toe echoed with a tremble in his voice.
“Yes, get them. Now!” Jackie barked and his two men made moves toward the ladies.
“Same partners?” Kim asked Shego.
“Why not?” Shego shrugged.
The moss-hued warrior went at Pain King, having to cross in front of Kim to get to him. He tried to swing at her, but he was much too slow. She ducked the punch and went in with pressure points on the mind. She hit a number of points on his body before he even realized it and she stepped away from him. He could not even gasp and then he fell over.
“What was the point in that?” Shego wondered. She doubted that she had ever dropped someone that easily before.
“Oh, come on! Get up!” Jackie commanded Pain King.
“Sorry, but, Oja-sama isn’t going to be getting back up for a while now,” the green-skinned woman commented with a smart aleck smirk on her face.
Jackie snarled and he turned his attention to Steel Toe and Kim. Steel Toe was not doing any better than his fallen partner. He tried hitting Kim with his metallic footwear, but he just was not fast enough. Kim came in and hit him in his knees with a few swift kicks. He cried out in agony and fell over. She stood over him and clocked him with one powerful kick to his face, which knocked him out cold.
“Unbelievable!” Jackie said. How in the hell was it possible for two women to just beat his boys like that? They were such worthless monkeys, he shouted in his mind.
“So, are you sure you want a piece of this, little man?” Shego inquired in a boastful tone while motioning between herself and her redheaded companion.
“I’m not afraid you,” the small fellow declared.
“You should be. We haven’t even gotten started yet,” the emerald-eyed warrior commented with a smirk.
Shego was really hoping that the little man would just run away. She and Kim had no desire just to beat on someone the size of a child like they had just done the two would-be bandits. At least the bandits were bigger than they were for them to kick around, but even that was not much fun in their opinions. If they wanted to get into a fight, they would just battle each other. It would save them the guilt and it would be so much more fulfilling and entertaining.
“You two are going to regret doing that to my guys,” Jackie commented.
“I doubt it, but feel free to make us try since you’re so daring about everything,” Shego replied.
“How about not making us try. I don’t want to fight you,” Kim informed the small fellow. Her brothers were taller than he was and she was not even comfortable sparring with them because of the height difference; the age difference and skill level also had something to do with it.
“Too bad. You’re going to and you’re not going to like it. I’m going to destroy both of you and once you’re completely worn out, I’m going to sell you to a brothel,” Jackie proclaimed while putting his pipe away, stashing in it his obi.
“This guy is delusional,” the redhead muttered.
“Not to mention longwinded. Shut up and come at us if you’re such a tough guy,” Shego ordered the guy. She was sick of just standing there sharing air with the moron. She had been nice and relaxed with her princess in her lap and she wanted to get back to that as soon as possible.
Jackie finally took Shego up on her offer, which she was thankful for, even though she did not want to kick the ass of a weakling. She did want to get back to her comfortable evening, though and if the fastest way to do that was to punt that shrimp, well, she was about to kick him like they were playing kemorai (4) and he was the ball.
He went at both ladies, jumping between them while attacking. They backed away and he went at Kim with some jump kicks. She put her arms up to block and pushed him away when his feet connected with her limbs. He fell back, knowing that he landed near Shego. He turned around to attack her.
Shego nearly rolled her eyes as he came at her with some punches. It was not that he did not know what he was doing, no. He seemed to know what to do much better than his goons, but he was still knee high. He could not hurt her as far as she was concerned and she kicked him away from her just because she wanted him to stop embarrassing himself.
Jackie slid across the ground thanks to Shego. He grunted as he came to a halt and coughed up some dirt. Shego put her hands on her hips and sucked her teeth. Kim sighed and folded her arms into her sleeves.
“Just stay down,” Shego practically begged the little man. She should not have to fight with someone that she could more than likely step on and never notice it.
“You two think you’re so hot?” he inquired with a growl.
“Well, yeah, there’s that and the fact that you’re kind of a bad,” Kim informed him, hoping it would get him to just give up. They had better things to do with their time, after all.
“That’s what you think,” he said.
“What the hell kind of thing is that to say?” Shego asked. He was obviously bad. There was nothing to think about.
Jackie climbed to his feet and turned his attention to the two ladies. They did not look too impressed with him, but he believed that he was about to change that. He was going to show them why no one made a fool of him.
“You two don’t know who you’re dealing with,” he warned them.
“Well, shut up and show us. Damn it, we were doing something before you showed up, you know,” Shego stated, her annoyance now very evident in her voice.
“You asked for it.”
Shego and Kim just stood around as Jackie pulled out a gem that was on a string. He put the jewel around his neck and it began to glow. He chuckled, thinking that he was shaking them up already it would seem. They were actually not too impressed; Shego especially since she could make her hands glow and she thought that was a bit more special than making a rock do it. Whatever he was doing, they hoped that he could do it quickly, so they could get things over with.
Jackie then began to growl as it seemed that the necklace was starting to do whatever it was that it did. They noticed that his ears grew along with some hair. His teeth began to grow long and sharp. He transformed right before their eyes and they each craned an eyebrow.
“Well, what do you think?” Jackie inquired, his voice now a growl.
1: Oja: king.
2: baka: fool; stupid person.
3: haori: a hip or thigh length coat worn over a kimono
4: Kemorai: it was a ball game, like soccer, and nobles were expected to know how to play.
Next time: the fight continues with the new and improved Jackie.