Shego tucked her hands under arms and stomped her feet. No, she wasn’t mad--at least not quite yet--but she was plenty cold. Such were the joys of the sidekick business, accompanying your employer to the ends of the world at the most inopportune times. It sucked…
… if the pay wasn’t good.
And seeing how it was Christmas Eve, this qualified as overtime. Overtime meant overtime pay and Shego could hear the sound of cash registers going off in her head. The money made hanging with Drakken in a snow-covered and still snowing evergreen forest palatable.
Palatable didn’t mean enjoyable.
“Why are we here, Dr. D?”
The blue skinned, black haired, earmuff wearing, scarf bundled, and mitten clad “evil genius” puffed his chest out and declared, “Mmm vu fer phrmmm wsmmmus hmm ca!”
Shego rolled her eyes and pulled down the length of cloth covering the man’s mouth. “What?” she snapped.
“We’re going to find the perfect Christmas tree!”
Drakken suddenly looked deflated. “And what?”
“And what are you going to do with it? Make it into a ray gun? Disguise us as trees so we can sneak in somewhere?”
Ever so slowly, he blinked and weakly offered, “And we’re going to decorate it at the lair?”
The nasty twitch that she’d been developing since the start of their times together made itself known again. “You dragged me all the way out here in the middle of a freakin’ blizzard to cut down a Christmas tree with you?”
“Well, Shego, I can’t carry a Christmas tree back to the hovercraft all by myself.”
Calm. She forced herself to be calm. This was cutting down a Christmas tree, not rocket science or sneaking into a top secret vault. She could do this, go back home, curl up in front of her fireplace, and enjoy a marathon of snappy Christmas movies before the night was done.
How hard could picking a Christmas tree be?
“Fine,” sneered Shego as she pointed to the nearest and smallest specimen, “How about that one?”
“No, that’s too small.”
The aforementioned twitch worsened.
“Argh, I can’t BELIEVE the tweebs blew up the Christmas tree!”
Ron tried to keep up with a fuming Kim Possible, but between the knee high snow and his own clumsiness, he seemed to have some trouble. “Look on the bright side KP: at least most of the presents didn’t get blown up with it.”
“That’s because only my presents got blown up!”
Rufus, who perched himself in Ron’s pocket, tugged on his friend’s scarf and shook his little naked mole rat head as if to say “Ron, drop it before you trip and get us both hurt.”
For once, Ron got the message, cleared his throat, and switched topics. “So, umm, why are we here?”
“I need to get another Christmas tree or my parents will freak.”
“Wait, your parents weren’t at home?”
“The tweebs wouldn’t have blown up the tree if they were.”
“When are they getting back?”
Kim glanced at her watch. “Twenty minutes… if the roads don’t close because of the blizzard. They were dropping off presents for their friends.”
“Why can’t we just buy a Christmas tree from the place down the street from you?”
Sighing (more to herself than Ron), Kim slowed her mad dash through the snow. “Dad is really… particular… about his Christmas trees. He says they have to be Grand Firs because they’re sturdy enough to support the big ornaments and smell the best.”
“Wow, didn’t know your dad was that into trees.”
“Only Christmas trees.”
“And people don’t sell Grand Firs?”
“Nope, this is the only place in Middleton that has them.”
A sudden gust nearly blew the two friends off their feet. The flakes of snow grew more numerous while the temperature dipped down yet again. Ron’s teeth chattered in concert with Rufus’ and they formed quite a percussion section in and of themselves. Kim… Kim seethed. This wasn’t the way she wanted to spend her Christmas vacation, hiking through a blizzard to get a tree so that her parents wouldn’t blow a gasket over the tweebs.
Yes, she did this for the tweebs. Despite the explosion being their faults, despite them making life difficult for her, despite them ruining her presents, they were still her tweebs and the thought of having them holed up in their room for the holidays didn’t set too well with her. So like any good big sister, Kim called Wade to call that snowplowing company she saved from Monkey Fist, hitched a ride with them, and came here to save the Possible Christmas.
Of course with Ron as her effervescent helper.
And just because she did this as a kindly gesture didn’t mean she had to do it happily; after all, it wasn’t like she was a professional botanist or anything. Finding a Grand Fir in these conditions rated as nigh impossible, but then again, anything was possible with Kim Possible.
Beyond the howling winds and teeth chatters, unsettling noises reached her ears. At first, she tried to ignore them, but the further she and Ron trekked, the louder the noises became until she could almost make them out.
“Ron,” she whispered, “do you hear that?”
“Yeah KP, I hear it alright, but I don’t get why we should be whispering.”
“Do you know what it is?”
Still in his conspiratory voice, he answered, “It’s the wind.”
Smack went Kim’s glove as it met her own forehead. “No Ron, I mean the noises from over there. They almost sound like people arguing.”
Further they went, staying low and a little off the beaten path. Soon, Kim’s suspicions were confirmed, not that she wanted to be right in this particular instance.
“… won’t do! It’s too piney.”
“Piney?” The way Shego’s hands flared, she was about to commit bloody murder. “It’s a Christmas tree! It’s suppose to be piney!”
“No, I’m looking for a fir. That’s a pine.”
If the man didn’t sign her paychecks, he’d be dead. No one would charge her with any crime: killing an annoying villain one day before Christmas because he dragged her out on this caper was justifiable homicide. No one would care about Drakken. Actually, people would probably hail her for finally ridding the world of another menace.
But the man signed her paychecks and money afforded him survival.
Eye twitching at an unhealthy clip now, Shego pointed at another tree. “Ok, we’re taking that one, no ands, ifs, or-”
“But that’s a White Spruce. The needles smell horrible.”
Unable to hold back anymore, Shego let out a cry of frustration, anger, and most importantly, malice into the sky, her voice echoing far and wide while her gloved hands burst into a homicidal inferno of green.
For his part, Drakken appeared puzzled. “What’s a matter Shego?”
Didn’t his sidekick want the best tree possible to lighten up their drab lair? Didn’t she see how Christmas wasn’t quite Christmas without the proper tree? Didn’t she see the importance of not yanking his scarf, setting it on fire, and dragging him close so he couldn’t put out the flames?
“We. Are. Leaving.”
Meanwhile, not too far away, Ron nudged his best friend in the side. “Hey, KP-”
“Sssh, not now Ron. Can’t you see that’s Drakken and Shego?”
“Yeah, but isn’t that a-”
Green plasma puffed out, extinguished by its mistress. Shego let go of Drakken (thereby letting him put himself out in the snow) and shifted her eyes around her surroundings. She heard whispers from somewhere and felt stares all over her. Felt like getting caught on security cameras or…
A very thin smile graced her lips. “Kimmie.”
Even this far away, Kim heard her name coming out of that mouth. Maybe if they stayed quiet, Shego and Drakken would go away. Maybe if she stopped breathing, Shego would think it was the wind playing tricks. Maybe-
Ron nudged her side again.
As quietly as she could, she hissed, “What?”
“Isn’t that a Grand Fir over there?”
She followed Ron’s pointing finger. Out in the open behind Shego and Drakken was perhaps the best example of a Grand Fir she’d ever seen in her life. If a person looked up “Grand Fir” in a book, this tree would’ve been the picture. It was young but strong, not bending even a little to the terrible weather. It maintained its conical shape while sprouting enough branches to be considered solid but not too many to be thought of as thorny. Twigs were a festive reddish brown. The tree stood tall but not overbearing, just big enough to fit through a door and stand up in any normal American living room.
It was, simply, a tree which described Christmas.
“Ron, stick close me.”
“KP, you’ve got to be kidding!”
“We’re going to sneak over there and get that tree before them.”
“Why? Maybe they don’t even want a tree. Maybe evil villains don’t celebrate Christmas!”
“Trust me: if Drakken wants a tree, it’s going to be that one.”
Against his better judgment (and fear of Shego), Ron emulated Kim’s movements, dropping down and slowly creeping to their destination.
“We’ve got company, Dr. D.”
“Company?” Drakken removed his singed scarf and looked around. “I don’t see anything.”
“Of course you don’t. Come on, let’s get out of the open and see what Kimmie has in store for us.”
“Possible? How can you be so sure it’s Possible?”
For agonizing minutes, nothing happened. The wind, the snow, the anticipation, everything held itself, suspended in this wrinkle of time. What was filled with life earlier became once again barren, a no-man’s land, a place people shouldn’t have been during Christmas Eve. Not a puff of breath or shuffle of clothes disturbed the area, and if one strained their ears hard, they could’ve even heard the reverberations of Shego’s furious scream from earlier.
In that time, Kim and Ron reached the Grand Fir. In that time, Shego (with Drakken in tow) found evidence of recently crawled through snow.
In twenty short seconds, hero and villain collided.
Shego and Kim saw each other first. A stream of green plasma streaked out from Shego’s hands and Kim accordingly dodged. Drakken lay eyes on the tree and ran toward it like a child after his new bike; Ron, meanwhile, hugged the tree protectively and readied himself to defend if necessary.
“Stay back, Drakken!”
In the background, sounds of punches, kicks, and bodies landing on snow jiggled away.
“It’s… it’s…” Drakken snapped his fingers as if the act alone would jog his memory.
From the sounds of fighting came Shego’s voice. “Stoppable!” it provided.
“Ah yes,” chortled Drakken, “Buffoon!”
Instead of taking offense to the constant forgetting of his name, Ron simply let Rufus out of his warm little perch and let the naked mole rat latch onto the criminal’s face.
While Drakken screamed about his eyes and a pink glob of mole rat on it, Shego and Kim--both refusing to let go of each other--rolled into the clearing a good distance away from the tree. When they popped back up to their feet, Shego lashed out with a vicious kick that sent Kim onto her rear. Green flames followed the strike, but the red head somersaulted backwards and into a defensive position.
They took a moment to catch their breaths.
The usual gamut of questions flashed through their eyes. Why are you here? What evil scheme are you up to now? Why did you attack me? Why were you sneaking around?
They didn’t ask them because they’d been asked so many times before. Honestly, the answers never made too much sense especially when Drakken’s plans were involved. Their best form of communication came in quick quips and even quicker strikes. They weren’t about to break with tradition.
“Kimmie, having a merry Christmas?”
Duck. Tackle. Pin Shego to ground. “Not so good. My Christmas tree exploded.”
Block. Block. Flip, reverse positions. “And I thought I had it bad.”
Head butt. Throw. Charge. “You don’t know the meaning of bad.”
Parry. Sweep. Look offended. “Um, hello? Villain here? I live ‘bad!’”
Throw snow into eyes. Punch. Punch. Punch. Punch. “Face it, Shego, you’re bad at being bad.”
Catch fist. Catch other fist. Sneer. “Say that again?”
“Drakken’s plans never work and you end up either in jail or out some expensive device. After all your trying, you haven’t taken over the world once. And the worst thing?” Push. Slam into tree. Knee to side. “You’ve never beaten me.”
Reverse positions. Push. Slam into tree. “Sorry to tell you Kimmie, but you’ve never beaten me either.”
“Now’s as good of a time as any!”
Before Shego could get another word in, Kim summoned all her strength and flung her nemesis to the side, head over feet. If it wasn’t for the thick pad of snow, Shego would’ve seen the tree root jabbing ever so slightly out of the ground and braced herself appropriately. The little protrusion met her temple with a sickening thud and sent her tumbling down an incline. The bumping and gashing and gnashing of the forest’s many things knocked the wind out of her, preventing her from snaring anything for support. Further and further Shego dropped until the blizzard shielded her from view…
… and the only sign of her passing was a splash as she plunged into the subzero waters of the Middleton River.
For an eternal second, Kim stood in place. The rush of victory she felt fell flat when the realization struck: Shego could die down there. Anyone dying, even the worst of criminals, didn’t appeal to Kim, much less when the person was Shego, even less when Kim herself was responsible. She was a heroine, not a murderer. Heroines saved people and Shego needed saving.
No thanks to her.
The ice in her veins--formed from crystals of hatred and frustration--melted. Someone needed help and Kim Possible couldn’t stand by.
“KP! Look! I’ve got Drakken!”
Ron’s voice. He had Drakken and Drakken without Shego would never be able to terrorize the world again. Drakken would finally get the jail time he deserved for his megalomantic schemes. She and Ron would be heroes, the toast of the town.
But heroes didn’t kill. Heroes didn’t watch: heroes acted.
“Downstream!” Kim’s mind blared. Her feet acted on their own, carrying her face first into the pouring snow. Ron’s voice, as did the quest for a Christmas tree to save the tweebs, got so far away. Shego…
Through the trees, the ice ladled river came into view. Here, the embankment was a little less steep. Here, Kim actually had a chance to snag Shego if she hadn’t already been washed further away.
A sudden glimmer of green plasma downstream caught her eye.
Crap. The river was faster than expected. Kim raced down to the river’s edge and followed the snaking stream. The brief flash of green gave her hope but it was still quite a ways. Already her lungs burned, first exhausted by the fight and now doubly tested by the chase. The snow even deepened here forcing her to fight for every inch of ground covered.
Through the haze, through the fatigue, through the cold stinging her eyes, she saw a tuft of black hair clinging to a slow moving block of ice. The green flash… Shego must’ve used her powers to make holes in the ice so she could hold on.
No movement. God, she must’ve been frozen stiff.
No good--it was a waste of breath. She might’ve already been passed out or worse…
From her inner jacket pocket, Kim produced her trademark grappling hook. She meant to use its rope to tie the Christmas tree down to the snowplow she rode here in. Hopefully, it’d be enough to save Shego’s life.
Pfoom. Clank. The force of the drifting ice almost yanked Kim off her feet but sheer grit and determination held her fast. Her heels dug into the snow and found purchase on the still muddy banks. Still, it was one girl against an entire river’s power and the river felt a need to exert its dominance. Despite Kim’s teeth baring efforts, Shego’s ice block continued its course, albeit at a slowed rate. Already the redhead could see a tract of displaced snow and mud behind her, testaments to her struggle. Already she could feel her body growing numb, the cold penetrating her layers of clothing and chilling her like the sight of a motionless Shego.
Her thumb pressed the retract button and the grappling hook’s tiny motor cranked to life. The rope retracted a few inches and Shego’s progress downstream halted for a brief second. Before she could formulate a plan, the distinct smell of burning plastic and the sound of grinding gears made Kim cringe. Clank, crack, and the motor gave its final sputter.
The ice block resumed its course.
God, if only Ron were here, he could’ve held the grappling hook or tied it to something while Kim herself went about with the rescuing. God, if only she didn’t throw Shego onto that root or down that embankment, both of them could’ve been enjoying their Christmas Eves. God, if only she didn’t feel that tinge of fear for Shego’s life, then she could’ve just walked back the way she came and forgotten about this entire mess.
But no, she didn’t and she couldn’t. As hard as it was to say, Kim got a perverse joy out of fighting with Shego. Their “relationship” felt like one of Ron’s video games where you came back again and again because the game was hard and impossible. It made her competitive, it forced her to use all her talents, all the things she was good at.
Shego was Shego, not quite a person, not quite a force of nature.
And yet, stranded out on the river and half-frozen, she looked so very human.
Up ahead, a fallen tree caught Kim’s eye. She ran, ignoring the throbbing pain all over her hands. Pushing past pine needles and prickly shoots, she wrapped the grappling hook around one of the thicker portions and hoped it would hold.
Her answer came when the rope slackened, the wood creaked, and the bark splintered: the branch held.
Up and over the tree she jumped, never stopping, never taking an extra breath. Sometime ago, the rope got wet, and as it got wet, it got weak. The blizzard did its finest job to freeze the moisture, making things worse by the second. The rope hummed like a tuned string instrument teetering on the edge of destruction. With a leap that would do a track and field athlete proud, Kim took off from the river’s edge, soared over grappling hook’s rope, and landed on the ice block Shego held onto.
That was the good news.
The bad news was that her force jarred the already tenuously anchored grappling hook loose. Suddenly, Kim felt like a surfer riding the crest of a gnarly wave. Suddenly, Kim saw a particularly rocky section of the Middleton River creep into view. Suddenly, Kim wanted off of this block.
Gasp. Shego’s lips were purple. Her normally pale green skin went ashen. The side of her head bled, blood coming down her cheek and onto her neck. Her eyes still maintained their spark of intelligence though.
“Shego, grab my hand.”
The older girl shook her head. “Outta here, Kimmie,” she mumbled, tired, hurt, and resigned, “Y’not gettin’ back to shore with me on your back.”
“I’m Kim Possible. I can do anything.”
“So we’re gonna die together? How sweet of you.”
Seeing how Shego wasn’t any help, Kim helped herself by pulling her arch nemesis up. The added weight and quickening current made the platform wobble. A rock smashed into the place where Shego hung onto. The wobbling and smashing overcame Kim’s superior balance and launched her--with Shego in her arms--into the water.
In terms of cold, whatever she experienced previous to being submerged paled in comparison. Kim’s joints locked up. Every move seemed to grate on her bones. Her heavy clothes took on water and dragged her down into the murky depths, into the deadliest part of the river. Funny that under all this water, she saw light shimmer through and fill her with calm. It felt like morning again, and like morning, the dreariness of sleep overtook her.
The light faded and she was left all alone…
Until a brilliant green light reilluminated her field of vision. Shego--looking very much like a mermaid--swam into view. An arm enfolded Kim’s waist and pulled her, pleaded with her, begged her to use what little energy she had left to get to safety.
Her first sluggish kicks barely moved her forward but Shego compensated. Nearer and nearer the to the darkened shore they went, still underwater, still illuminated by green flames, still going without breath. The more Kim moved, the more her limbs loosened. Strength trickled through even as black blotches began covering her sight. Desperation gripped her but instead of succumbing to the fear, she used it to dragged herself and a flagging Shego from the river and onto the unforgiving, storm ravaged shore.
Air! Precious air! Both Kim and Shego coughed amidst the shivering. Already their clothes began to freeze or maybe it was their bodies slowing down. Couldn’t really tell.
“K… Ki… Kimm… Kimmie?”
The redhead forced herself to crane her neck. “Sh… Shego?”
“Ge… get… branches…”
Maybe she didn’t hear quite right. Maybe Shego was hallucinating. “B… b…”
What a strange request. Still, however strange it was, it had nothing on what Shego did now: burrow herself into a pile of snow. As Kim mulled the stranger and stranger set of events, her groggy brain fit all the pieces together.
Branches. Branches for a fire. Burrow into snow, use flame powers, make instant igloo. So brilliant and simple!
Scrambling as best she could, Kim fumbled for an armful of loose wood. She had no time to be picky, she just needed something that could burn. Nothing out here was dry anyway so quantity took precedence over quality.
By the time she fished out all the wood her lead-like arms could carry, she’d lost track of where they’d started. Shego disappeared. The pessimist in Kim postulated that her arch nemesis had left her for dead and made a refuge on her own. The optimist in her noted that if Shego wanted her dead, she wouldn’t have helped drag her back to shore. The realist said that Shego was probably collapsed inside the snow before she could follow through with her plan.
When the unmistakable green glow pulsed from a few feet away, Kim let out a great sigh. A boot jutted out of the snow, breaking through ice chunks and creating a big enough hole for a person to barely squeeze through. In went the branches, then quickly, Kim scampered in herself.
Inside, Shego poked at the roof of the structure while a lone glove smoldered in the middle like a campfire. For an impromptu shelter, this place rather impressed Kim. Just long enough for them to fully stretch out but not quite tall enough for them to stand, it did a fine job of keeping the chill out and the warmth in.
So then “Why are you poking at the ceiling?”
Kim braced for a scathing, sarcastic reply. Shego didn’t have enough energy to give one. “A… air,” she stuttered.
They needed air. Fire needed air. The fire! Hurriedly, Kim grabbed the driest of the branches and fed the dying fire. The first droplets of condensation almost stifled the poor little thing but with skill belying her cheerleading ways, Kim nursed the flames and made them radiant.
Job done and body warming, Shego plopped onto her back and groaned. Her soul ached, that’s how much she hurt. Her head throbbed like something awful, her body refused to keep warm, her eyes were about to ooze out of her skull, and her lungs felt like they had freezer burn. With the utmost care, she began peeling off her coat and unzipping her-
“Shego! What are you doing?”
Doy. “Wet clothes, Kimmie. They’re not going to keep you warm.”
The stripping continued.
“Wade, please tell me you have KP’s signal!”
“No can do, Ronster. Her Kimmunicator isn’t responding and all satellite images of the area are blocked out thanks to the blizzard.”
“Call the police! Call the national guard! Call GJ!”
“Already on it but the roads are closed. It’s going to take anyone a while before they make it out there.”
“Don’t look too down, Ron. Kim’s a resourceful girl and who knows? She’s probably sitting high and dry right now.”
“So in the mean time, what am I suppose to do with Drakken?”
“I dunno. What do you normally do with him?”
“Leave him to GJ or Shego.”
“Curse you, Buffoon! If it wasn’t for you, I’d have my Christmas tree in my lair… all alone… with no one but Shego who likes to leave me alone… drinking powdered eggnog with week old milk…”
“Rufus, do we have duct tape?”
The ferocious blush all over Kim’s cheeks refused to go away. Oh, she tried to tell herself it was because of the cold that made her look so rosy. She tried to trick herself into looking away to observe the igloo’s fine craftsmanship. She even kept all her soaking wet clothes on, hypothermia be damned.
“Kimmie, stop being such a prude.”
This wasn’t right. People weren’t suppose to be stuck in igloos next to their very naked and very well-endowed arch nemesis. Yes, she said it, Shego was well-endowed. The villain lifestyle did her justice by making her lean but leaving her curvaceous. The bra which held back her considerable breasts lay on the ground. Naked, every inch of her pale green skin out here for display, and judging by the coy grin, Shego loved putting on the show.
A feint stream of concern made it into her voice. “Listen, Kimmie, at least take off some of your clothes. Can’t have you dying on me.”
Maybe it was the near death experience. Maybe it was the hounding cold that didn’t go away. Maybe it was the teasing. Maybe it was the fact that Shego was right. Whatever the case was, Kim snapped, “Why do you care?”
“Fine, don’t listen to me. Just make sure to let GJ know I didn’t kill you. I’m a lot of things, but murderer? No.”
Kim expected more needling but a cautious glance to the side told of a dispassionate Shego with her back turned and breathing even. The little fire pit separated them, so if Shego wanted to try something, she’d have to maneuver past the-
Wait, wait, wait. Kim’s eyes crossed. Try something? Like what? “Like reach over and touch your naked flesh?” asked her brain. Nonsense. Shego wasn’t a lesbian. She couldn’t be. Never mind that, Kim wasn’t a lesbian. And never mind that, getting stuck in igloos with your worst enemy and then having sex to keep warm only happened in very bad, very campy movies.
Ok, bad thoughts setting in due to dangerous cold permeating her. Hesitantly, Kim unzipped her jacket and shrugged it off. Next went the still soaked gloves and boots. As she disrobed, Shego turned back around, smug grin on her face.
“That’s it, princess, take it all off for Shego.” One of Kim’s gloves flew over the fire and into Shego’s face. Of course, that just served for more cannon fodder. “My, my, you’re a natural, Kimmie. If I had some dollar bills on me, I’d stick ‘em in your-”
“What? I’m complimenting you.”
The venomous mutterings coming out of Kim’s mouth made the villain smile even wider. Too bad the mutterings coincided with Kim showing her back to the audience and finishing taking off her clothes in a hurry. Modesty, however, prevented Kim from taking off her wet bra and panties…
… which upon being seen by Shego, got mercilessly teased.
“Did you come back from a wet t-shirt contest?”
“Oh my, I didn’t know you shaved down THERE, Kimmie.”
“Come on, if you don’t take off that stuff too, you’re going to look like a shriveled grandma.”
“Has Stoppable seen you like this? Think he’d appreciate pictures?”
“Kimmie and Shego sittin’ in a tree, f-u-c-”
This went far enough. However, all Kim could muster from her weakened self was, “Shego, please, just stop.”
“Not only a prude but also a sourpuss--I’m disappointed.”
“Can’t you try to be serious for once? We almost died not thirty minutes ago.” Kim swallowed the lump in her throat. Scratch that last comment, she almost killed Shego not thirty minutes ago.
Instead of being annoyed or angry, Shego laughed. “Kimmie, almost dying is half the thrill!”
“Are you insane? That fight, you falling in the river, all those explosions we’re in all the time, all of Drakken’s backfiring, haywire inventions--that’s not fun. That’s dangerous! Look at yourself! You still have that gash on the side of your head from me throwing you.”
“Gash, smash, whatever. Are we still alive?”
“We’re still alive,” smiled Shego, “That’s all that matters. We ride the ragged edge of disaster and live to tell about it. That, in my book, is fun.”
Kim flopped onto her back and gaze up through the hole in the ceiling. “Everything we do to each other, all the fighting and bantering, you mean you do it because it’s fun?”
“Well, yeah,” Shego snorted as if offended.
“Is that also why you’re a villain?”
The question came out of left field and bonked Shego in the head. What was this? Kim getting deep? Mushy perhaps? Want to know more about how her mind worked? Her first reaction: defense. Villains and heroines weren’t suppose to get along. But Kimmie was different. Kimmie was Kimmie, a thrilling little red headed package.
Kimmie deserved an answer.
Shego looked her arch nemesis straight in the eye. “I’m free.”
The comment hung in the air. Kim’s mouth opened and closed but no sound came out until, “Is… is… Is that some sort of pick up line?”
Shego growled, “No! I’m telling you why I’m a villain, damn it!”
The woman sighed and tucked her long black hair behind her ears. “Doesn’t the world saving business grate on you?”
The speed of the answer, the conviction which it had, that impressed Shego. “Guess you’re a better person than me, Kimmie. I couldn’t stand it after a while.”
“Don’t you have some grudge against your brothers?”
“No, nothing a normal sister wouldn’t have with her family. After you live with a bunch of people for all your life, you just want to get away, know what I mean?”
Tweebs. Exploded Christmas tree. “Yeah, totally.”
“I don’t hate them…”
“Could’ve fooled me.”
“… but I am tired of them.” A small blast of plasma raised the fire between them. Through the semi-darkness, Shego could see she had Kim’s rapt attention. “Like I said, I couldn’t stand the world saving business, and trust me, it’s a business. Don’t get me wrong, I liked helping people and doing all those death-defying tricks in the name justice but my life didn’t belong to me anymore. People expected me to do things for them, to be perfect, to be something more than human because of my powers. I couldn’t take a vacation because some supervillain was always attacking. I couldn’t go places with my brothers because we always got mobbed by curious onlookers. Got so bad that people read into everything that I did--where I got my clothes, where I went for a midnight snack, how I did my hair, who I was friends with…”
Blinking, Kim wondered if her eyes were deceiving her or if that was really a tear rolling down Shego’s cheek.
“I wasn’t living my life. Being a villain, especially a sidekick, it’s so much easier. It’s a 9 to 5, six to seven figure job, and when I punch out, I can do anything I want. No reporters following me around, no one looking over my shoulder telling me what to do, nothing to interrupt my own alone time.”
“That’s why you work for Drakken,” Kim said, understanding dawning on her.
“He’s rich and harmless. And the funniest part? If Dr. D really did take over the world, what do you think he’d do with it? Nothing, that’s what. I firmly believe that anyone who still has their mom do their laundry for them is not capable of running the world.”
“Then why are we always fighting, Shego? Can’t we be like this, talking and being friends?”
“Kimmie, when was the last we got a chance to talk? We’re suppose to be enemies. You’re suppose to try and stop me and Dr. D. We’re always throwing punches first and asking questions later because that’s what we’re expected to do.”
“I thought you didn’t like people expecting things of you.”
“But I like fighting you,” said Shego with a sparkle in her eye, “You’re the only thing that gets me through a normal work day. Well, you and all the villain magazines I steal from Dr. D’s desk.”
“That’s all am I to you? A way to get through the work day? Shego, I don’t know how many times we could’ve killed each other! It almost happened tonight!”
“It’s called fighting, not roller-skating. Fighting is deadly stuff and people get hurt, sometimes killed. That’s part of what makes it so exciting, like skydiving or bull running or tightrope walking. You don’t know whether you’re going to walk away from it or not. Besides, it’s not like we don’t look out for each other. If either one of us got in major trouble, the other would hop in to save their sorry butt.” Flashing a toothy grin, she added, “Like tonight.”
Smash. With a mighty swing of words (not fists), every preconception Kimberly Ann Possible ever held about Shego shattered. Hatred simmered into nothing; the blinders over eyes rolled up to reveal a person, not an enemy. For once, Kim allowed herself the latitude to examine how eerily similar they were beyond physical abilities. Encapsulated in these last few minutes were Kim’s innermost thoughts about her world-saving part-time job, how it began to infringe upon her free time and social life, how it put a crimp on her studies. She felt an extra kinship to Shego, not the supervillain sidekick but the woman who left it all behind to be herself. This Shego seemed genuine. This Shego seemed like someone she could become if her life turned out slightly differently.
This Shego wasn’t evil.
“I think we should stop fighting each other,” whispered Kim.
“Why’s that? Because I told you why I hooked up with Dr. D? Kimmie, I still work for him. I’m still going to steal stuff, litter, and drive way too fast. As long as we’re in the game, we have to fight.”
“No we don’t. I used to think you worked with Drakken because you were evil and wanted to take over the world. I can’t fight someone who wants to be left alone so she can enjoy her life.”
A pale hand came out of nowhere and slapped Kim so hard it left a welt. “Can you fight now?”
The other hand tagged her on the other side. “Getting mad yet?”
“Good. Keep it that way.”
“Just because I’m getting mad doesn’t mean I’m going to fight you.”
A irritated growl escaped Shego as she lunged over the fire and straddled Kim. There used to be resistance when she did this move. There used to be banter and insults when they pinned each other down. Now, all that remained was Kim’s pitying eyes and a will Shego knew wouldn’t break.
“Why are you changing everything, Kimmie?” Her voice contained a true passionate anger Kim had never heard before. “This used to be simple and now you’re making it complicated. We fight, we separate, we fight again: that’s what we do!”
“Why can’t we do something else besides fighting?”
“Because it feels too good!”
Because it feels too… “Wha?”
“Shit,” cursed Shego. She sprung back onto her side and began throwing on her still damp clothes.
For her part, Kim puzzled over the last sentence and couldn’t come up with anything. “Wait, Shego, what’s wrong?”
“I’m outta here. Go take your Gandhi act somewhere else, Possible.”
“Talk to me, don’t shut me out.” Seeing how the other girl was almost fully dressed, Kim moved herself in front of the exit. “Tell me what feels so good.”
Zip went the jacket. “Move or I’m going to have to destroy this thing and freeze you to death.”
“Is it us talking that feels so good?”
“No.” She pulled her gloves on.
“Is it us being civil to-”
“N.O.” The boots went on next before Kim’s soft hands found their way onto her face and forced them to make eye contact.
“Then tell me.”
Shego watched the intense stare and waited for Kim to blink. She waited for her to turn away or remove her hands. She waited for something to happen, but it didn’t. Kim didn’t move a muscle. The too small igloo seemed to cave in that much more, surrounding her, choking her, suffocating her. These words… they weren’t suppose to be spoken tonight. Hell, they weren’t suppose to be spoken, period. The quiet equilibrium she’d forged with Kimmie went boom, never to be repaired.
What remained now was the unknown.
“Being with you,” Shego murmured as she looked away.
“Being with me feels too good?”
Her fiery temper rose again. “You want me to spell it out for you, Kimmie? I’m absolutely freakin’ ga-ga over your stupid red hair and crazy little doe-like eyes! When you show up to stop Dr. D, I spend all my time staring at that tight black top and your out of fashion cargo pants! I fight you because it’s the closest I can get to you, because that’s the easiest way for me to feel you, talk to you, and have fun with you.”
And like an inferno, the temper burned itself out leaving only Shego and her feelings, naked. In a much softer voice, she said, “Every birthday and Christmas, I wish to get closer to you. If you want to hear pathetic, when I’m by myself at night, I hunt for that first star so that I can make the goddamn wish. Being with you feels so good and comfortable, but I can’t let myself get too close. You don’t feel that way.”
“Shego, I said we could be frie-”
“I don’t want to be friends, Kimmie.”
“What do you… Oh.”
“Yeah, that’s right, ‘Oh’ about sums it up.” The last shoelace tied and her scarf back on, Shego pulled Kim’s hands away. “Goodbye, Kimmie. It’s been fun.”
“Boys? Kimmiecub? We’re finally home! Sorry to keep you waiting but the roads were horrid!”
Before the parental units could say another word, thundering footsteps raced down the stairs and assaulted them with a flurry of words.
“Boys, boys,” smiled their harried mother, “Take a breath.”
“Mom,” began Tim.
“Dad,” jumped in Jim.
In unison, “We didn’t mean to blow up the Christmas tree!”
They tried their best approximation of the dreaded Possible family “puppy-dog pout” but ended up looking sinister and maniacal.
Which, if you think about it, really wasn’t far from the truth, at least according to Kim.
Rushing into the family room, Mr. Dr. Possible braced himself for a catastrophic sight along the lines of when the Grinch stole Christmas. What he got was a pristine abode, a beautiful, fully decorated Grand Fir, and a boatload of houseguests.
There was Monique, decked out in her reindeer slippers and elf PJs, on the lazy-boy. Ron was face down on the floor, flanked by a half finished glass of milk and surrounded by cookie crumbs. Rufus lounged amongst the crumbs, very content. Dr. Possible’s old colleague, Drew Lipsky, draped himself all over the couch. A few solid looking gifts (still wrapped!) propped up a flat screen computer monitor which had Wade’s face on it. Next to the roaring fireplace was their precious Kimmiecub with her head resting on the stomach of Drew Lipsky’s assistant, Shego. In Shego’s arms? Kim’s very own pandaroo.
They slept, snores coming at slightly different volumes and intervals. For all its disturbing qualities, the scene looked too peaceful to disturb. So, like all good parents, the Doctors Possible gave each other a smile, turned off the lights, and ushered their rambunctious boys upstairs.
As quiet as a church mouse, a soft, “Merry Christmas, Kimmie,” filled the air and made a girl smile.
An equally soft “Merry Christmas, Shego” came right back.
In the end, all was right in this little Middleton home, Christmas tree, love story, burnt presents, harrowing adventure and all, because friends--and sometimes a few enemies--make existence worthwhile. Perhaps the lesson, if there was one through the talking and tumbling and sniping, is “Who knows?” Who knows what’ll happen when we wish upon a star or close our eyes tight when we blow out our birthday candles? Who knows? No one, and because no one knows, that is why we live. That is why we dream, why we celebrate another year’s passing, why we look forward to the future, why we wish each other the best of luck, a merry Christmas, and a happy New Year.
Tomorrow may be the best day of our lives.
“Shut it, Dr. D.”
“You too, Stoppable.”
- The End.