“Ah, Dr. Director. Please, sit down.”
Betty Director wasn’t easily intimidated. As the leader of Global Justice, a worldwide crime fighting force, the term “intimidate” usually applied when she chose to exercise the feeling on others. However, even she had her bosses, and currently, every one of them--each an unreadable statue--sat on the raised dais at the front of the room.
Her bosses? Knowledgeable representatives of the G8 nations, in other words, leaders of their own country’s espionage and defense organizations. From the UK was the head of MI-6. From the US, director of the CIA. From Russia, the FSB’s (formerly the KGB’s) chairman stared. And on and on down the line. Eight nations, eight bosses, each with his or her own agenda and Betty’s job in their capable but not always cooperative hands. They convened once a year to assess current state of GJ, bring to light new threats, and decide on funding to her organization’s numerous arms.
The politically naïve called it a status report. Those who’d gone through this gauntlet knew it as a systematic deconstruction of the year’s happenings.
The faintest of faint rumblings dried Betty’s throat. Intimidated? God no. Concerned? Well, maybe just a little.
Gracefully, she slid into the plush chair. From her vantage point, the eight representatives towered above all. Behind them, a finely sculpted atlas of the world covered the wall as if to remind those sitting before this powerful panel who he or she ultimately served. Funny how the same panel had their backs turned to the atlas, but Betty kept that morsel of commentary to herself.
The CIA representative spoke first. “Whenever you’re ready, Dr. Director.”
Her presentation went well… initially. Talks about successes guaranteed lots of nodding heads and a receptive audience, but with an agency as large as GJ, failures cropped up. A security breach here, a botched mission there, and not to mention the increasingly bumbling antics of Agent Will Du secured disapproving scowls. But Dr. Director wasn’t Dr. Director for nothing, her verbiage always dulling the sharpest blows to her organization. She ended her report with a handful of flashy high notes, quoting glowing statistics and reiterating the most smashing of victories.
Then, the questions started, each one more indepth than the next. The Japanese wanted to know what the British were doing about Monty Fiske, a.k.a. Monkey Fist. The Canadians expressed their displeasure over the U.S.’s inability to contain DNAmy who was now poaching endangered animals in their northern territories. The U.S. and U.K. banded together to raise hell about the possible sightings of WEE--the Worldwide Evil Empire--in Russia.
All of which fell under GJ’s broad jurisdiction.
Flustered at the barrage, the quickly fraying Betty missed a question posed by the head of the BND, Germany’s answer to the CIA. “Could you repeat that?”
The stocky, quickly approaching elderly woman nodded, her vacant gaze unnerving in every way. “I vas wundering about ze ‘promising contractors’ you spoke of last time ve met.”
Promising contractors? What promising contra-
Oh. “Yes,” coughed Betty as she shifted in her seat, “They are still promising.”
The short answer didn’t satisfy the aged matron. “Elaborate.”
Eight pairs of eyes trained onto Betty’s one eye. To hide the truth--especially with an operation underway as she spoke--would be grounds for GJ’s dissolution. To be honest, she wasn’t too fond of the truth, but if it’s what these hardened espionage leaders wanted…
“One of the two prospective agents has been compromised.”
They sat atop the hill and watched the sun shimmer on fallen snow. Bundled in their thickest winter wear, the cold didn’t even faze them. Besides, if it did, their very presence next to each other would’ve undone the harshest chills.
“It’s beautiful, Shego.”
“I always liked Middleton after a good snow. Everything just… glows.”
With that, they fell back into silence. Kim Possible nudged herself closer to Shego, closer until their heavy coats flattened out and passed a wholesome warmth between them. Before them lay the entire city doing its best impersonation of a white, peaceful wonderland. The sun shoved away all manners of darkness, highlighting foliage that managed to pucker through the passed blizzard. Cars rolled slowly along like gigantic, expensive pearls. Windows glimmered like diamond facets.
“How long do you think this is going to last?”
Shego shrugged. “Until the snow melts.”
“No, I mean this,” emphasized Kim, reaching over to cover her companion’s hand, “Us.”
It’d been fourteen days since Christmas. The New Year blossomed into reality but nothing else acknowledged it. Middleton stayed in the holiday spirit, red and green decorations still littering the land. The people woke at ungodly hours, all of them refusing to get themselves back into the grind of non-vacation life.
The same held true for Shego who spent the weeks in a daze. What began as an intolerable exercise to find Dr. D’s Christmas tree turned into a harrowing adventure which then evolved into… into… this.
She and Kim. Kim and her. Was this love? Maybe. Was this romance? Probably. Was this happiness? Most certainly. Was this real? Yes, but that didn’t stop Shego from pinching herself. This was this, a dreamy rapport none thought could or would ever be. Being together felt so right and invigorating. Being together felt so refreshing, Shego’s elder cynic to Kim’s golden hearted champion.
They weren’t opposites--too many similarities lay between them--but they were complimentary, and together, the world at large seemed to glow brighter than it did at the moment.
Shego shrugged again, but this time, a ghost of smile showed through. “How long do you want it to last?”
“I don’t know.”
Kim sighed and rested her head on Shego’s shoulder. “I have school in a week.”
“That’s when my paid vacation ends too.”
“Then what? Are we going to pretend nothing happened?”
“Well, that’s one option.”
Kim bristled at the flippant comment. “Even Drakken knows things have changed between us.”
“You’re asking me for the future, Kimmie,” smirked Shego, “I’m no good at fortune telling. I’m no good at the normal thing either. Someone said to me once, ‘Dates are things normal girls have, girls who have time to think about nail polish and facials.’ I don’t do normal. All I know is that this crummy little town looks nice despite its prettiest thing sitting up here with me.”
Sweet talking. It almost worked, but Kim was Kim, stubbornly determined. “I’m serious, Shego. This Christmas has been my best one yet and a lot of the reason is because you were there. For once, we were just enjoying life together without fighting. We were having fun, hanging out, getting to know each other better. Heck, even Ron’s warming up to you. Every second’s been a happy blur and I don’t want it to end.”
“Then don’t let it.”
“But it will. You’re going to go back to Drakken, I’m going to have to stop you, and we’ll end up fighting again.”
Puppy dog eyes filled with pooling tears hit Shego with a hurricane’s force. Compounding the perfect storm: the tightening grip on her hand and the quivering lower lip. Then for the coup de grace, Kim’s nose twitched and sniffled. The Possible pout went into full effect, merciless in all its cuteness, relentless in its search for pity and compliance.
“Kimmie, what do you want?”
A promise. Sounded so innocent and undemanding but Shego knew otherwise. Only the densest of the dense would’ve missed Kim’s need for a fairy tale ending. That was how everything ended for her, wasn’t it? Happily ever after? Shego felt the words ringing around in Kim’s head, the same words which would end those villainous ways and send her back onto the side of good. It was so tempting…
However, it was a promise Shego could never keep.
A promise like that meant giving up her freedom. Even with Kim nuzzled by her side, even with the bubbly feelings effervescing through her this entire week, even with her veritable fortune from thievery, even with the vision of fighting with Kim instead of against her, Shego couldn’t give up her freedom. Freedom was everything, greater than money, greater than power, and greater than (at this point) Kimmie. Going straight meant constraining herself and owning up to the things she’d done, the things which made her a wanted criminal, the same things which would land her in jail. Going straight meant not breaking out of jail and serving her time which inevitably led to a loss of freedom. A life without freedom--no matter how brief--wasn’t worth living, and that axiom dictated how Shego existed.
Yet she couldn’t deny Kim. There was a reason why those green eyes and that red hair pushed every button of her soul: love. Her mind sidestepped it, her heart tried to ignore it, but love colored her thoughts and emotions. What began as an unhealthy obsession about a rival became this, an infantile love. Amazing how Kim didn’t push her away; amazing how she didn’t freak at the idea of two women being together; amazing how she didn’t disregard the possibility of this before it even saw the light of day.
Then again, with a name like Kim Possible, a girl had to be open to possibilities.
Shego locked her eyes on Kim’s, halting the puppy dog gaze. “I’ve got an idea, Princess. It’s not what you have in mind but it’s as close as I can give you.” Disappointment crested that adorable face but Shego remained strong, showing a measure of doggedness herself. “As long as you want me, whatever tomorrow brings, I’ll be here.”
“That doesn’t solve anything.”
“It solves everything, Kimmie. Whatever the world says, whatever happens to either of us, as long as you want me, I’ll be with you.”
“It doesn’t change the fact that we’re on opposite sides.”
An old saying popped up out of nowhere, one which Shego found vastly appropriate. “Love is compromise, Princess. Love is hard work. Love takes time, the true kind anyway. Let’s just take baby steps before we go around changing each other into people we’d regret even knowing. I tried that once and it didn’t quite work out the way I wanted it to.”
Shyly, Kim kissed Shego on the lips, the peck quick and soft. When she pulled away, her cheeks blushed a fiery red, as red as her brilliant hair. “So this is love.”
“Not quite yet, but it’s getting there.”
“Fine,” Kim nodded, though the nod more for herself than Shego, “We’ll be there for each other no matter what.”
“I noticed you changed the ‘me’ to ‘we.’”
“I’m learning to compromise.”
“Compromised?” scoffed the CIA director. He’d been using the term to cover up words like “pooch screw” and “royal fuck up” for over twenty seven years. Compromised. Ha! “‘Compromised’ is never a good thing.”
“No sir, it is not, but Global Justice is working diligently to solve this dilemma.”
“Just sever ties to dis not quite agent, non?” The French representative, and by the look on his face, he had other places to be, other things to do.
Betty shook her head. “She has too much potential.”
“Mais non, madamoiselle, no one person has that much potential.”
“Oh yes, this person does possess that much potential.”
“And ze proof, Dr. Director?”
“What if I told you that I’ve been sending this same ‘promising contractor’ out to deal with those megalomaniacal individuals we’ve all been besieged by?”
With a spring in her step and a bad song stuck in her head, Shego waltzed her way into Drakken’s newest lair, one of Middleton’s many nice sized houses. After spending Christmas at the Possibles’, her eccentric and often short-sighted boss insisted on moving into a “homelier” atmosphere, preferably (according to him) “something with a deck and a clear view of the southern sky.” Scary thing was, Drakken spent most of his time pestering Kim’s mom about the various vases, paintings, and knick knacks, most of which could’ve been gleaned from one episode or another of Martha Stewart. After a crash course in home decoration, the dufus tried his hand at the art.
Results were painful at best.
Take the plaid afghan draped all over the couch. A green and red plaid would’ve been nice, but yellow and purple? Gah. If such a travesty wasn’t enough, Dr. D added kudzu. Lots of kudzu. He had it hanging off of lights, overgrowing the TV, spiraling around banisters, creeping around walls, and bordering various stolen pieces of art. In some places, the new lair resembled a jungle or, at the very least, a kudzu jungle.
Leave it up to the good doctor to desanctify a perfectly fine upper-middleclass home.
Pushing the eye sores out of her mind, Shego sauntered to the kitchen where she promptly-
-slipped on a wet puddle. Great balance and acrobatic skills allowed her to remain upright, flailing arms and all. Once catching her breath, the now annoyed Shego frowned at the offending liquid. Her scowl would’ve deepened further if she didn’t realize that she was standing on blood.
The frown melted into worry. Her ears strained for bits of sound like footsteps, henchman’s voices, or other signs of life.
Crouched down low, Shego slinked into the dining room. Still nothing, but at least here, she could sneak out the window and leave through the backyard. Carefully and silently, she pulled back the ugly knit curtain.
However, as the fabric began to move, a hail of bullets shattered the noon calm. Holes appeared in the curtain, spilling light into the room one deadly projectile at a time. Naturally, Shego scampered back into kitchen and behind the counters to avoid any shots.
Outside, a booming voice declared, “We’ve got activity on the first floor! Go go go!”
Doy, this couldn’t be good.
Silence. This roomful of people finally had no words.
Betty gratefully took the respite, but in order to regain the upper hand in this meeting, she had to stay on the offensive. “While true that these menaces are still free today, such is the failing of the facilities we incarcerate them in, not the failing of this contractor. During the course of the last few weeks, intelligence indicates that one of these menaces is trying to befriend the contractor and use her against GJ.”
“And who, pray tell, are you getting this intelligence from?” asked the MI-6 director. “You’re talking about a woman who single-handedly outsmarts and outfights the best the villain underworld has to offer, a task we ourselves have failed in. What makes you think that any of your intelligence is even accurate?”
Betty smiled knowingly. “My intelligence comes from the other equally promising but uncompromised contractor who incidentally enough just accepted my invitation to join GJ yesterday.”
“So where were you, girl? Been callin’ you like crazy.”
With the phone nestled on her shoulder, Kim freed her hands to straighten out a few fallen Cuddle Buddies. “I was out,” the redhead answered.
“With Shego again?”
“Yeah.” Didn’t take a rocket scientist to see where this conversation headed towards. “And?”
“And?” Monique’s voice rose a notch. “Kim, she’s trouble. Now I get all that ‘bout holiday spirit, but shouldn’t you be, I don’t know, NOT hangin’ out with a psychopath?”
“Shego isn’t that bad once you get to know her. You saw her during Christmas-”
“That was Christmas! Girl, dontcha know people go back to normal after Christmas? I guarantee you that woman is playin’ some kind of game with you.”
Two weeks ago, Kim would’ve echoed Monique’s sentiments. Today, while a little part of her still held the insecurity, most of her revolted against Shego bashing. Checking the tiniest bit of annoyance creeping into her mind, Kim flopped on her bed and put the phone to her other ear. “So not the drama, Mon. Just chill, ok?”
“I can’t chill! My best friend’s worst enemy knows where she lives! What part of that can I chill over?”
“Shego isn’t going to-”
“What if the crazy white girl decides to rob a bank?”
A moment of hesitation hitched Kim’s response. It was only a moment, but the pause between question and answer made the following ring false. “I’d stop her.”
“See? You hear yourself? You had to think about it! She could’ve done a million things to you in that time and none of them are good!”
The objections from not long ago came back in spades. Shego was a villain; Kim was a heroine. They fought, they separated, and they fought again, that’s how things worked. How could two people with such opposing mentalities ever have a successful friendship, let alone be in love? It couldn’t and Monique’s bullet points gave a form to the misgivings in Kim’s head.
They’d existed in a winter wonderland, but sooner rather than later, the snow would melt and reality would once again set in. Things could never be the same between them, but they surely could get worse. The pressure scrunched up Kim’s forehead and made her snatch her dearest pandaroo from its perch.
Luckily, Monique wasn’t oblivious to her friend’s plight. Softening her voice, she said, “Kim, I know you like to think everyone in the world is halfway decent, but there’s some people you can’t put anything past. I just don’t want you to get hurt, girl. I’m worried about you.”
“I know, Mon, I know.”
Another pause and the sound of shifting around on the other end of the line. “I’m thinkin’ about goin’ out to a movie later. Wanna come with?”
Nice change of subject. Kim smiled sadly and cleared her throat. “Yeah, what movie?”
“No idea but I wanted to get outta the house.”
“Should it be just us girls or can I call Ron?”
“Call him. The boy probably knows what movie’s good.”
“Ok, lemme just-”
Suddenly, her Kimmunicator belted its ever distinctive ring tone.
“What’s the bottom line?”
Leave it up to the good old Japanese to cut through the bureaucratic talk.
Betty didn’t feel proud of herself. In her lifetime, she’d done many things that made her conscience uneasy. Sometimes though, for the greater good, orders had to be carried out, uneasiness had to be stomached, and lives had to be changed.
This was one of those times.
Kim Possible, whether she knew it or not, was the best at what she did. Young age aside, her combination of raw talent and fast-thinking made her the perfect answer to many of GJ’s problems both present and future. Because of those abilities, because of her impressionability, because of her willingness to help, Kimberly Ann Possible was an asset to be protected at any cost.
“Teams of GJ agents are currently carrying out an intricate operation to nip this problem at the bud. Also, this mission serves an excellent test for our new recruit because he holds certain loyalties to the compromised contractor. If all goes well, the contractor will join GJ, the recruit will pass with flying colors, and our problems with global menaces like Professor Dementor and Señor Senior, Sr. will be a thing of the past.”
“KP, run that by me again?”
Kim opened her mouth to answer but Wade beat her to the punch.
“Shego and Drakken are stealing jet fuel from an oil refinery.”
“Jet fuel?” asked Ron, blinking. “Isn’t that a little… beneath them?”
“Well, normally I’d say yes, but they’re going after an experimental, military grade fuel codenamed J-PAT. It’s freakishly efficient, thermally stable, and leaves no traceable residues after combustion.”
Now sounded like a good time for Kim to reinsert herself back in the conversation. “So it’s really useful, really good at what it’s suppose to do, and really expensive. They can either use it or sell it.”
“Right,” Wade nodded, “The worst part is, people like Drakken or Dementor only need a relatively small sample of this stuff to puzzle out the chemical structure. Afterwards, they can probably make it themselves.”
A little ding on Wade’s end of the Kimmunicator made the young genius look away for a split second. “Oh cool, my burger’s done. I have the layout of the refinery uploaded to your Kimmunicators, not to mention a few surprise gadgets under your seats. Check ‘em out! I’ll catch up with both of you after I finish my burger.”
Of course, on the mention of gadgets, Ron immediately shoved his head underneath the chair and started digging around. Meanwhile, Kim sighed at her now blank screen. Just a few hours ago, she and Shego talked about the future and their feelings. Not half an hour ago, she stood up to Monique’s vehement (and now increasingly resounding) objections over even associating with Shego.
If only Monique knew… If only anyone knew the extent of “associating” that’d been going on… They’d probably freak.
Kim buried her head in her arms. Was this what Shego meant when she said she wanted to be free? Free to do anything she wanted? Free to break the law or enforce it at her discretion? What would their fights be like now? On principle, neither would pull any punches, but still, principle never equated to practice. Fighting for fun would be exhilarating; fighting in earnest because they were suppose to stop each other sent bad tremors down Kim’s spine.
A little voice in the back of her head said “I told you so.” Being completely enraptured with Shego--with her looks, her attitude, her weird, detached wisdom--made everything complicated. Would they still be the same after this encounter? Could they compartmentalize the professional and the personal? Then in between all of that, she had to deal with her usual adolescent growing pains, an upcoming driver’s test, the coming semester, and issues of her own sexuality.
And then the most damning question: what if Shego was only playing with her emotions?
“KP? Ron to KP, are you awake?”
“Yeah,” muttered Kim, slowly dragging herself back to a sitting position. “Like… drama, you know?”
“Yup yup,” nodded Ron, “Kind of feels funny going to bust people who you had Christmas dinner with.”
“I just can’t envisioning them--especially Shego--trying to take over the world anymore. She’s not some crazy, scary super-villain. She’s sensitive and conscientious.”
“Whoa, I won’t go that far. Shego’s still scary.”
“Ron, I thought you said she wasn’t that bad.”
“She isn’t that bad because she wasn’t trying to barbeque me at the dinner table. Once she starts shooting that green fire again, she goes back to being scary.”
“I guess so.”
“You guess so?” Even back in pre-K, Ron had never seen Kim so undecided about anything. It was always get-up n’ go with her, her mind dead set and her body in constant motion. “Um, KP, there something Rufus and I should know about?”
Her heart suddenly sped up at her friend’s innocent question. Did he have an idea what was happening between them? Oh God oh God ohGodohGod. “I’m nervous.”
Crap, did she just blurt that out loud?
“Why?” It was Shego and Drakken, people they’d faced off with too many times to count. What was there to be nervous about?
Before Kim needed to answer, the train they rode in came to a graceful halt. Instead of going through Wade’s bag of tricks under the seat, our feisty heroine simply slung it over her shoulder and bounded to the exit.
“Thanks for the ride!” she shouted to the conductor while she waited for Ron.
“No need to thank me, young lady, not after you stopped Duff Killigan from stealing our tracks to put on his global golf course.”
- To be continued…