Every man builds his world in his own image. He has the power to choose, but no power to escape the necessity of choice. -Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
“GET ME THE HELL OUT OF HERE!”
Her green eyes were filled with a panicked rage, almost psychotic. Her breaths were short and hard, unwashed teeth making for a rancid smell as the warm air hit his nostrils. She pulled him down so that their faces were mere inches apart, panting through closed teeth and staring at him crazily. But aside from his initial shock at the woman waking up, the expression on his face never changed from an impassive stare.
“Hey Shego,” Wade greeted, unbothered by the awkward position he found himself in. “Glad to see you’re up.”
The green woman released him and leapt from the table to land on the cold, damp concrete floor of the lab. She seemed unconcerned with her nudity, focused on only one thing: finding Princess.
“Where’s Kimmie?” she demanded, grabbing the supergenius by the shirt once more. This time Wade simply gripped her shoulders with his large black hands and effortlessly separated them, an emotionless expression on his face.
“I can’t tell you,” he announced, his gaze unflinching. She didn’t scare him like she used to.
“WHY NOT?!” Shego roared, throwing her hands in the air in frustration.
“Because I don’t know!” Wade shouted back, losing his grip on the emotions he struggled to hold back. He hung his head in defeat. “I don’t have clearance that high, and while I may have helped design the firewall, I’ve got no way to hack it without my signal getting traced. I made a security system even I can’t crack. Plus, even if I could, I’m bound by GJ policy not to reveal her whereabouts under penalty of death to me and my entire family. I’m not like Kim. I can’t do anything.”
Shego stared at the man in front of her in utter disgust. That wasn’t the Nerdlinger she knew. She knew the signs. He had allowed himself to be seduced by Dr. Director’s promises and had sold his soul to the devil. Shego hated to see someone so utterly defeated. She had to snap him out of it if he was to be of any assistance in her escape.
“Oh, save it for someone who gives a shit!” Shego snapped, exaggerating her anger to motivate the young supergenius. “Kimmie couldn’t do anything without you! Who made her gadgets, got her rides, tracked me and Dr. D to all corners of the earth and made a battle suit that was capable of defeating even me? You did, that’s who!”
Wade sighed and shook his head. “That was a long time ago, Shego. Now I just look at dead people. After Kim joined GJ, I thought I was going to still be her support operative. But it turned out she didn’t need me anymore. I didn’t feel wanted, so I transferred over to here. It may not be the best, but at least here I can be alone. I’m not the same person I once was.”
“Really?” Shego challenged. “You were the one who figured out who was behind this, all by yourself! You only needed a name and you tracked down the killer’s file! That gave Kimmie and I a chance to stop him! Nobody could have seen this coming, but that doesn’t make you any less of a genius! All that doubt is in your head! You CAN do anything with a computer! Don’t let Betty fill you head with those damned lies!” She screamed the words at him, trying to get her message through his thick skull. But the man in front of her had been broken long ago.
“It wasn’t Dr. Director,” Wade whispered, “It was Kim.”
Shego was dumbstruck for a moment. “What?”
“After Ron died, Kim blamed me,” the supergenius revealed, sitting back down in his chair. Shego’s eyes softened with sympathy for the enormous man in front of her who seemed close to tears. “She didn’t say anything about it, but I could tell that she did by the way she looked at me. Everybody else she just shut out. But… she lashed out at me. Doubted me. Made her own calls. She wouldn’t trust me.” His hands were covering his face now, and Shego had pulled up a chair next to him, reminded of the fact that she was wearing no clothes as her bottom made contact with the coarse fabric. She turned the chair around backwards and rested her forearms on the backrest, placing her chin on top. She gazed at Wade with a look of sympathy.
“And now, I’ve let her down again,” Wade despaired. “I should have been faster! But, I wasn’t.”
“Okay, Nerdlinger, pity party’s over,” Shego interrupted in a commanding tone. “What happened, happened. Now what the fuck are you gonna do about it?”
Wade raised his tear filled eyes to Shego’s stern expression. She had grown tired of this. “I don’t know,” the supergenius whispered.
“Well I’ll tell you what you’re gonna do,” Shego replied. “You’re gonna get off your depressed ass and help me get Kimmie out of here! She’s being tortured, Goddammit!”
Wade’s eyes went wide with anger at the word “tortured.” He shot to his feet. “Shit!” he screamed, grabbing his laptop. Shego smiled proudly. It had worked. Now the computer geek was at her disposal. And she didn’t even have to lie to do it. If Kimmie was in danger, this guy would do anything and everything he could to save her.
“She told me she was going to interrogate her, not torture her!” Wade exclaimed as he tapped furiously away at his keyboard so fast that individual clicks were indistinguishable from one another.
“Doy! Aren’t they the same thing?” Shego quipped.
“Not how she said it,” the supergenius returned, cursing himself for letting himself be fooled like that. “That woman can spin anything to make it sound harmless.” He reached up and wiped the sweat from his brow, narrowing his eyes and resuming his impossibly fast typing.
“Aren’t you worried you’re gonna burn out the keyboard like that?” Shego commented snidely, leaning over Wade’s shoulder, not caring that her breasts were inches from his face. Not that he noticed with the way his eyes were focused on that computer screen.
“I have to go this fast,” the supergenius answered. “All I need is a little window and I can patch into the security feed for about ten seconds.”
“Ten seconds?” Shego balked. “That’s it?!”
“Until the trace program I designed catches up with me and starts to figure out who I am,” Wade explained. “Right now I’m trying to distract it and mask my signal. It’s not easy. The only reason I’m able to is because I designed it. But even I can’t defeat it.”
“Well hurry it up, will you?” Shego demanded. “I need to know if Kimmie’s still alive!”
“How did you know she was being tortured anyways?” the supergenius inquired.
“Monkey boy decided to communicate with me from the other side and showed me Kimmie. The things Dr. Director was doing to her… Oh, I want to kill that woman!”
“Ron?” Wade exclaimed, surprised. “Ron talked to you?”
“Long story. Explain later,” Shego replied hurriedly. “All I know is before I cut off the connection, Kimmie’s heart stopped.”
Wade froze. His hands stopped moving, and Shego noticed that the tracer program was already trying to identify him. “Don’t stop, keep going!” Shego scolded, slapping him upside the head to bring him back to attention. “Unless you want to get killed!”
Working even faster than before, Wade narrowed his eyes and his fingers became a blur, traveling across the keyboard at lightning speed. “Almost there,” he grimaced through clenched teeth. “Got it!”
The trace program disappeared and the screen switched to a security camera view. Wade’s eyes widened in horror and Shego fought back tears. “Oh Kimmie,” she whispered, unable to take her eyes off the screen.
Kim’s body was barely recognizable. Blood from her mouth covered her entire upper body and was slowly trickling its way down to the legs. Her auburn hair was charred where the electricity had converted to heat and burned her before dissipating. Her eyes were blackened, the blood vessels around them having ruptured from the extreme shock. Her lips were puffy and chapped, abused and in desperate need of water. A line of drool ran from her mouth, and her chest neither rose nor fell. The monitor at the edge of the camera’s view displayed a flat line. The image of Dr. Director stood laughing over it all.
“She’s… dead,” Wade spoke, breaking the silence that had gone on too long. Shego said nothing, her eyes glued to the screen, looking for something, anything that would tell her Kim was alive. But her chest did not rise and fall and her heart was in ventricular fibrillation. It was only a matter of time before she went brain-dead.
Though it seemed like an eternity, the image vanished from the screen all too soon and Wade closed it, turning off the laptop to prevent the trace program from locating him. Neither said a word for several moments. Then Shego spoke up.
“Goddammit,” she whispered, lowering her head in defeat. “This is all my fault. I should never have fallen in love with her.”
“Your fault?” Wade challenged, unwilling to let someone else take the blame for what he believed was his mistake. “I work with Betty Director and I couldn’t see this coming. Nobody could have. If anyone’s to blame here, it’s me! I should have known!”
“We’ve been through this before, Nerdlinger,” Shego retorted, starting to pace around the small room. “You did everything you could for Princess. But I’m the one who got her into this damn situation to begin with. I should have been stronger and pushed her away so she wouldn’t have to pay for my mistakes! God, I should have never even let myself fall in love with her! But no, I let my infatuation with her make me blind. And that one-eyed freak knew I had a soft spot for her, she knew it! This was all to get me, and I had to drag Kimmie into it. I should have just run the fuck away!” She slammed an ignited hand down on the steel table, leaving a smoldering dent.
“I’d say something about it being better to have loved and lost at this point, but you don’t seem too interested in listening,” Wade remarked, earning an infuriated scowl from the green woman. “So we both agree that neither of us could have seen this coming. But what are we gonna do about it?”
“What can we do about it?” Shego despaired as she threw her hands in the air, teardrops welling up in her eyes. “It’s not like we can bring her back now! She’s dead! That… bitch killed her!” She gritted her teeth and brought her hands to her sides, clenching them into fists of rage. “I’ll tell you what I’m gonna do,” she grimaced, “I’m gonna take it to that freak right now and kill her the fuck back!”
Then something occurred to her.
“What the hell?” She opened and closed her hands, trying to trigger the muscles that would get her plasma to light. It was a sort of natural failsafe in case she was unable to light them telepathically if something were to compromise the neural pathways leading from the part of her brain that enabled her to control her powers. The doctors thought it was a tumor at first, but it was so integrated into her brain that surgery would have put her in a vegetative state at best and killed her at worst. If the control center were to take damage, she would lose fine control over her powers. She’d discovered this when she’d suffered a concussion back in her Team Go days. She learned that if she flexed the right muscles, she could control her powers manually while the main control center healed. It was riskier, and she could immolate herself and anyone within five-hundred yards of her if she wasn’t careful, but she would at least be able to light up. Now… she couldn’t even do that.
“Goddammit!” she exclaimed as the realization that she had been disarmed hit her. “That bitch stole my powers!”
“No, she duplicated them,” Wade corrected, and Shego whipped her head around to face the supergenius.
“What makes you think that?”
“Well, for one thing, she stated it in her log. I hacked in before, but with that tracer program in high gear I’ll have to wait awhile before I can bring it up again,” he explained, making Shego feel slightly more at ease.
“But even if she didn’t say it, your skin’s still green, isn’t it?” he continued. “Not to mention I checked out that control center in your brain, and it’s just gone dormant due to the shock that the process caused your system. The reason flexing your hands doesn’t work is because she drained your body of all its power before dropping you off here. I had to inject you with a special serum to restore your elevated blood plasma level or you wouldn’t be alive right now. Your powers are slowly rebuilding, but you’ll need at least a week before you’re fully charged.”
Shego stared at him in amazement. “How did you know all that?”
“Please, I got your medical records with a few keystrokes. Army software is some of the easiest shit in the world to hack. For me at least.”
“And I thought Kimmie could do anything,” Shego joked, not even thinking about it. She gasped. “Kimmie!” Her thoughts had now come full circle, back to the subject that started this mess. She tried to run off, but Wade grabbed her by the arm. Under normal circumstances she would have ignited her hands and forced him to let go of her, but she remembered that she couldn’t. The best she managed was a tiny green ember that missed Wade entirely, disappearing into the air a split second after its creation. Pathetic. Even more pathetic was the fact that the effort required to produce something so small drained what little energy was left, and Shego collapsed into Wade’s arms.
“Now how do you expect to stop Dr. Director when you can’t even get away from me?” he asked, sitting her down in a chair, where she hung limply. “You need rest, Shego. Rescuing Kim can come later. Now, I’ve arranged for a hoverjet to come pick you up after I break you out of here. Kim’s gonna make it, I swear. But I need to get you somewhere safe for the time being.”
“But… Kimmie…” Shego whispered desperately, on the verge of passing out. Wade pulled a syringe from the cart beside the table.
“This is anesthetic,” he explained. “I’m going to inject you with this. When you wake up, you’ll be in a safe place. Stay there until my people come get you. You’re gonna be well taken care of, Shego. I promise.”
“N-no… no needles…” the green woman protested, but Wade had already stuck the syringe in her arm. “Goodnight, Shego.”
The last thought that crossed her mind before she lost consciousness was Kim’s face.
Pain. Throbbing pain.
‘Where am I?’
Aching. Distant pain.
Darkness. Chaos. Confusion.
‘Am I… dead?’
Silence. No answer.
Echoes. No response.
‘Can anybody answer me? Where am I?’
Pain. Darkness. Confusion. Silence. Echoes.
‘Did I die? What’s going on?’
No answer. Silence again. Fog. White noise.
‘Anybody there? Anybody?’
Nothing. Void. Nonexistence.
‘Shego? Are you there? What’s going on?’
Whining. High pitched mechanical whining.
‘Ow! What the hell!’
‘Okay, whoever’s doing that, it’s not funny! Stop it!’
‘Who are you?’
Kim’s eyes snapped open and a scream forced its way from her mouth. Her skull was on fire. Her entire body felt encased in magma. Thousands of needles assaulted her head. She took in a huge gasp, followed by several pants. She tried to speak, but the words would not form. Absolutely mind numbing pain!
After a few moments, she calmed down enough to think about what had just happened. Already the details of her “dream” were slipping through her newly awake neurons as she desperately tried to remember where she was. She glanced around and saw various instruments used for torture. She saw blood. Her blood. Her breathing sped up again and her heart threatened to leap out of her chest. She tried to move and realized she was manacled to a slab. Running purely on adrenaline, Kim struggled against her restraints like an animal, to no avail. Where the fuck was she? She began to hyperventilate and her heart sped up to dangerous levels.
The slap came from nowhere. A hand impacted against her right cheek, snapping her out of her panic attack. Using her martial arts training, Kim closed her eyes and took several deep breaths. Slowly, the memories came back to her. She was a prisoner. Dr. Director had been torturing her for the last three hours. The last thing she remembered before waking up was the sensation of bullets ripping through her. Then…
“You killed me!” She screamed at the one-eyed woman, who had a smirk painted on her face. “You fucking killed me!”
“And I just literally raised you from the dead,” Dr. Director added, as if it were really necessary.
“But you killed me to begin with!” the redhead countered with what any sane person would have seen as a very good point. But Kim was beginning to have serious doubts that the woman in front of her was mentally well.
“I got a little carried away,” the one-eyed woman explained. “If you’d just done what I told you and welcomed the pain instead of fighting it, you never would have gone into shock.”
“You’re blaming this on me?” Kim shouted incredulously. “Pain isn’t exactly something I welcome! In fact, any sane person would do the opposite of welcoming. You’re crazy!”
“Kimberly, have you ever encountered a riptide?” Dr. Director interjected, ignoring her.
“What the hell has that got to do with anything?”
The one-eyed woman grinned. “More than you might think. You see, on every beach where there’s the possibility of a riptide, they post a sign that says something to the effect of, ‘Don't try to swim against the current or it will keep dragging you under. Let it carry you out to sea, and then swim back to shore. You see, Kim, It’s like quicksand. The more you fight it, the deeper you sink into it. That’s how a spider catches its prey, too. The more you struggle in the spider’s web, the more tangled you become. The more you resist me, the more you belong to me.” She punctuated that last sentence by holding her hand in front of Kim’s face and closing it into a fist. Kim didn’t even flinch.
“Visionaries are often regarded as mentally ill. To change the world, one must view it from a different perspective.” There it was again. That lecture voice. Like she was back in college. Well, not college per se. Since Ron had been killed slightly after graduation, Kim had dropped out of what few colleges she had applied to, most of which were overseas. All that was left was Global Justice. Kim had listened to that voice drone on for hours a day, but at the time she had been fascinated by it. Of course, back then she was under Dr. Director’s spell. Now she knew the truth.
“I think I read that on a motivational poster somewhere,” Kim commented in a way that sounded a lot like Shego. “You’re not as original as you think you are.”
“Neither are you,” Dr. Director countered, shifting the conversation back to Kim. “I’m reminded of a quote by James Thurber. I always got a chuckle out of it. He asked, ‘Why do you have to be a non-conformist like everybody else?’” She laughed at her own little joke.
“Okay, but maybe there’s a reason resisting authority is so cliché,” Kim offered, trying to buy herself time before the next volley. She had to be careful or it could end up backfiring on her. “I don’t think that’s what he meant.” The student was now able to match wits with the master. Dr. Director smiled inwards. She was learning.
“Oh, and what did he mean?”
“He meant that you should never side with the majority. Be yourself. All that nonsense. I still don’t see how it fits.” There. That should do it.
It didn’t, judging from the toothy smile that spread across the one-eyed woman’s face. “Really, Kimberly? What majority am I siding with? How am I not being myself? But you are right that it’s nonsense. And it fits perfectly.” In four sentences, she had refuted every single point as though she had written an entire essay. Only two people in the world were clever enough form a retort.
Kim was one of those people. “But we’re not talking about you.”
Unfortunately for Kim, Dr. Director was the second. “Quite right. It leads back to my original point, Kim. The more you try to fight the inevitable, the more you find yourself trapped in it. It’s the same reason people wait in lines at the supermarket. If they all were to move, there would just be another line in a different place. And so it is with this. If everybody tries to rebel in the same basic way or against the same basic authority, doesn’t that make them all the same?”
“It does. Remember what I told you yesterday, how there isn’t going to be any revolution because everybody wants to be a leader and not a follower? Well, I think now you understand what I meant by that. The trick is to give the masses a suitable target. A scapegoat. Something to focus their hate on.”
“I hate you.” Kim seethed.
“Believe me, the feeling is mutual,” Dr. Director replied dryly. “But there’s always time for change.”
Kim scoffed. “Right. Like you could really change me. I’ve lasted this long.”
“Yes, you’re right,” the one-eyed woman hummed, stroking her chin with her thumb and index finger. Her eye lit up and the expression on her face was halfway between lottery winner and axe murderer. Grinning devilishly, she strode over to the console.
“Hate is such a strong word, Kimberly,” she began, typing in a string of commands. Kim expected pain, but instead a large view screen came down from the ceiling. “Absolutes are so rare in today’s world. I won’t say that there are no absolutes, because that’s one right there.” Kim rolled her eyes. “However, you will soon learn that there are exceptions to every rule.”
“Yeah, like the rule about me joining you,” Kim spat in response, a weak retort at best. She was running out of sarcastic remarks.
“Or the rule about you only liking boys,” Dr. Director countered. She typed a few more commands into the keyboard, and the view screen came to life. Out of habit, Kim turned her attention there.
She shouldn’t have.
“Do you remember the first time you said you hated somebody, Kimberly?” the one-eyed woman asked. “And meant it? I’m sure this will refresh your memory.” With that, a scene began to play on the view screen. Kim’s eyes grew wide in horror.
“You know what I really hate?” Kim spat the words. In the rain, it was hard to tell how much the other woman had sweat during their fight, but she was clearly exhausted. Having to pull yourself up from a ledge after nearly falling to your death really takes a lot out of a person. Still, she managed to shift into a fighting stance.
“That your… date melted?” she remarked. Wrong answer.
“Nah, you.” With that, Kim drove her super suit-enhanced foot into Shego’s gut, forcing up blood from deep within her that was quickly wiped away by the torrential rain. She screamed in terror as she flew back a good fifty feet into the electrified antenna, where she was subjected to tens of thousands of volts of electricity. As the tower collapsed into the building, she went with it, falling into what appeared to be her tomb.
Kim stood proudly above it all, narrowing her eyes in a triumphant smirk as lightning flashed behind her. She had done it. She had defeated Shego.
“NOOOOO!” Back in the present, Kim shouted at the view screen, hoping that what she’d seen wasn’t the truth. But it was. She’d lived it. It was the first time she got a glimpse of her dark side. The one event she had tried her hardest to forget.
Shego had obviously come out alright. Her powers acted as a thermocouple, allowing her to convert the electricity into plasma and dissipate the heat. But she still must have felt immeasurable pain. It was nothing compared to the pain Kim felt now. She lowered her head as a solitary tear ran down her cheek. “I’m sorry, Shego,” she whispered so quietly she didn’t think anybody else could hear it. But Dr. Director did.
“What do you have to be sorry for?” the one-eyed woman challenged, tearing open the old wound. “After all, anybody in your position would have done the same. Shego almost ruined your perfect night. She kidnapped your boyfriend. She did it on prom, of all nights. God forbid anybody ruin your perfect night.” It was quite clear now that Dr. Director was mocking her.
“Shut up,” Kim growled through gritted teeth. “She only did what Drakken told her to.”
“But you didn’t notice that, did you? No. You were too busy obsessing about that walking dildo you called a boyfriend.” For once, they could agree on something. Eric was an asshole. Now that she thought about it, he technically did qualify as a recreational toy. The thought made her shiver.
“So what? I learned my lesson. Ron pulled me out of there.”
“Yes, Ron saved you. Reassured you in your moment of greatest need. And so you fell in love with him. But what about Shego? You wanted her to die, didn’t you? You savored every last second of her screaming. Because she got in the way of what you wanted. And you hated her. Didn’t you?”
Kim kept her mouth shut. She didn’t want to answer that.
“DIDN’T YOU?” Dr. Director smacked Kim across the face with the back of her hand, spilling even more blood. Kim slowly turned her head back to face the one-eyed woman.
“Not as much as I hate you,” she spat venomously.
“So you admit to hating her, then,” Dr. Director continued, twisting the words of her captive. “And it felt good to let out that frustration, didn’t it? You actually wanted her to die.”
“What are you trying to do?” Kim demanded, growing tired of the questions that Dr. Director seemed to be asking for no reason other than to torment her. “Yes, I hated her! Yes, I was a total bitch that night! Yes, I wanted her to die! But I’m not that kind of person anymore! People change!”
“And what kind of person are you?” the one-eyed woman barked like a Drill Sergeant.
“Well I’m sure as hell not like you!”
Silence for a moment. Neither woman said anything to the other. Kim was breathing heavily like an enraged bull. Her face was red with anger. Sweat poured from her forehead, stinging her eyes, but she didn’t care. She focused her intense glare on the woman in front of her. Dr. Director was impassive, stone-faced as always. After a moment, the head of GJ broke the silence.
“That,” she said calmly, “is what I am trying to change.”
‘How is she?’
Voices, coming from nowhere. They sounded so distant, echoing in her aching head. There was something familiar about one of the voices. “Huh? Where am I?”
‘Her temperature is a little low.’
‘100 degrees Farenheight.’
‘That’s almost normal human temperature. She must have gone through a lot of trauma.’
“Yeah, ya think?” The words stopped at her lips. Her mouth would not move. Neither would her eyes. She was paralyzed. Frozen. Trapped in herself.
‘She looks paler than normal. What did they do to her?’
‘Dr. Load says they found a way to duplicate her powers. That’s the reason she has the scar.’
She felt her shirt lifted up. “At least I have clothes on this time. Where the fuck am I?” To her, the words sounded clear as day. But the other voices did not hear them.
‘I see. At least her healing ability has kicked in.’
‘Yes, in a few days you won’t even be able to tell she ever had it. If only we could find a way to use these powers for medicine.’
“Sorry, sister, but people have tried. The only way you can get this is to be hit by a comet from outer fucking space. And it’s not an experience I recommend.”
‘I think she’s had enough people poking around her body for a lifetime.’
“Good. At least somebody has some common sense.” Where had she heard that voice before?
Doctor? She was in a hospital? That would explain the beeping she now heard, as well as the oxygen mask on her face. She fought to open her eyes, to see where she was.
‘Doctor, I think she’s waking up.’
“I’ve BEEN up. I just can’t move. Damn, what have they got me on?”
‘Yes, I think she’s finally decided to join us. Let’s let her rest for now. She’s been through a lot.’
“No, wait! Who are you? Where am I? Come back!”
Kim’s limp, exhausted, broken body was lifted from the manacles and hung over the shoulder of one of the guards.
“Take her back to her cell and see that she gets an IV drip. I don’t want her dying.”
‘Why? Afraid you won’t be able to bring me back again?’
‘Sir? I never got that. Maybe ‘cause you’re a little butch?’
“And get her a bath and some fresh clothes. I don’t want to be looking at a bloody mess.”
‘But mommy, I don’t wanna take a bath.’
‘Yes Dr. Man Woman, sir. God, your face is so masculine. I wonder if it’s the eye patch?’
“Good. You have your orders. Now go.”
‘Bye, “sir.” And I thought I was a dyke. You’re a mega-butch. If I didn’t hate you so much, I’d suggest we bone sometime.’
Kim felt the wind against her sweat-soaked skin. Where she was going she didn’t know and didn’t care. All that mattered is that she had made it out of there alive. She hadn’t given in.
Warm water flowed over her skin and washed away the caked blood. It felt soothing, relaxing. The fact that someone else’s hands were touching her didn’t even register with the redhead. At least it wasn’t painful.
After the bath she felt a towel gently dry every inch of her body, and a pair of fresh clothes was slipped on her. Through it all, she remained limp as a sleeping cat. She was drained. She felt herself hoisted into the air again.
Kim’s damaged nerves barely registered the feeling of being gently set down into the bed of her cell. She didn’t want to open her eyes. She was exhausted. Spent. Every last ounce of adrenaline gone. But she had won. By refusing to give in, she had won. A smile made its way across her face and she started to giggle. She didn’t even flinch as the IV slid into her arm, because she didn’t notice it. The last thing on her mind before she drifted off into sleep was how proud Shego would be of her.
“I-I don’t know!”
Shego slammed the woman in pink scrubs up against the wall. She had a crazy gleam in her eyes. “Where the hell am I?”
“M-Middleton General Hospital. Some men in strange uniforms dropped you off in the emergency room. We moved you to Intensive Care.”
“Did they say who they were working for?”
“I-I wouldn’t know that. I’m not the one who admitted you. Only your doctor and the admitting nurse know that! I swear it’s the truth!”
“And who’s my doctor?”
“I am.” The voice came from behind her. It sounded so familiar. “Put her down, Shego.”
Having grown bored with scaring the poor nurse half to death, Shego set the trembling woman down. “Sorry about that,” she told her, but the nurse just ran out of the room in a panic. Shego turned around to follow her when her eyes ran straight into a woman she thought she’d never see.
She was like Kim, only older. Her red hair was contrasted by light blue eyes and her white lab coat clung to her slender frame. Shego could see where Kimmie got her natural beauty. “You’re Kimmie’s mom,” she realized.
“Call me Anne,” the woman replied warmly. “Are you quite done interrogating innocent nurses or do I have to call security?”
“That girl does notknow how to put in an IV,” Shego answered, indicating the bruise that was now forming on the inside of her elbow.
“And you do?” Anne asked in a much more sincere tone than Shego expected.
“Trust me, doc, when you’ve had blood samples taken all your life, you get to know your way around needles.”
“Margaret’s been a nurse for nearly five years. I’m sure it was just a misunderstanding,” Dr. Possible insisted.
“I mean, it wasn’t that she doesn’t know how to put one in, it’s just that her hands were shaking too much. I think she was scared of me.”
“I’ll be sure to talk to her about it,” Anne promised. “Would you like me to put it in?”
Shego shook her head. “I’ll do it myself. It’s not that I don’t think you know how, it’s just… I really don’t trust anybody else when it comes to needles.”
“So what the fuck happened to me?” Shego asked as she sat down on her bed, grabbing the needle and shoving it into a vein that took her less than a second to find. Dr. Possible looked genuinely surprised that she was that adept. Shego would have made a fine doctor.
“Wade called me and told me everything.”
“Everything?” Shego was now sitting up in her bed. Dr. Possible had taken the clipboard from the foot of the bed and was looking over it.
“Everything,” she confirmed.
“Even the part about—”
“You and Kim? Yes, I know.” For some reason, the way she said that actually made Shego feel better.
Dr. Possible never looked up from her clipboard “Don’t worry. You’re a fine choice.”
“Kimmie and I stopped speaking after Ron died. From what Wade told me, it sounds like you brought out a little of the old Kim. Anyone who can do that I’d be glad to have as part of the family.” She made eye contact with the green woman for that last sentence.
“So you’re okay with this?” Shego hadn’t given this sort of thing much thought, but she certainly hadn’t expected it to go like this.
“If you’re wondering whether or not that will affect my performance as a Doctor, the answer is that my daughter is old enough to make her own decisions. I just have to trust she made the right one. And even if you were a convicted child rapist, I would still do my job to the best of my ability. I’m required to treat all patients equally.”
“Have you ever made an exception to that rule?”
“Shego, the only exceptions to that rule I’ve made are for people who are on my good side. I’d never kill someone by neglecting my duties just because I don’t like them. And I like you, Shego. You’ve brought out a side in my daughter that I haven’t seen since Ron died. Besides, we’re a lot alike.”
“Well, so far the only sign of that I’ve seen is that we both call her Kimmie.”
“It’s more than that, Shego,” Dr. Possible insisted. “I’ve taught Kimmie to always stay true to herself, to not let the fact that she’s a woman hold her back, and to make her own decisions. These are the rules I have followed. They’re the same principles I see at work in you. You love my daughter, Shego, and it’s clear she loves you. Wade has given me more than enough evidence on that front.”
“So Freud was right,” Shego quipped.
“I beg your pardon?”
“He said all boys want to marry their mothers. Maybe the same thing is true of lesbians. As controversial as he was, I don’t think even Freud was willing to go that far.”
Dr. Possible laughed. “Whenever Kimmie talked about you, she was always so impressed by your sense of humor. With your insights you’d make a good psychologist. That, or a stand-up comic.”
Shego ignored that last part. “Wait, Kimmie talked about me?”
“All the time, Shego. At first I thought it was a little unhealthy, but she… admired you, Shego. She wanted to be like you, only on the hero side instead of a villain. I think she was growing obsessed with trying to turn you good.”
“Well, she got me to neutral,” Shego remarked, leaning back on her upright pillow. “I guess that counts for something.” Shego sighed. “And now because of me she’s in deep shit, maybe dead. And there’s no way for me to get her out of there.”
“I always had my suspicions about Betty,” Anne commented, never breaking stride. “She never could settle for second best.”
“Wait, you knew her?” This was news to Shego. Even though they looked about the same age, she never suspected that Kimmie’s mom and Dr. Director might have known each other.
“We were college roommates. I was getting my pre-med degree while she was considering a career in Criminal Justice. Back then she still had both eyes.”
“Any idea how she lost it?”
“Oh yeah, that too, but I mean, how did she suddenly go all nutso?”
“Well, she’s not technically insane, but Betty can be a bit… blind in her ambitions.” Her eyes dropped a little at that remark, while Shego couldn’t help giggling at the pun.
“You’re speaking from experience, aren’t you?” Shego guessed.
“There was this one young science major,” Anne began. “He was one of the smartest men I ever laid eyes on. Confident, funny, a little off, but he always put my needs first. I knew right then he was the man I wanted to marry.” She seemed to drift off at that last statement. She sat down in the chair next to Shego’s hospital bed.
“So what does this have to do with Betty?” Shego interrupted.
“It turned out we liked the same things in a man. James was seeing both of us at the time, and we were competing amongst ourselves to see who he would choose. He was, as always, completely oblivious. I thought it was all in good fun. Nobody ever said anything about exclusivity, and Betty and I agreed to share. Then, one night, he proposed to me. I of course said yes, never giving Betty a second thought but… it destroyed her. After James and I were engaged, she moved out, and I never heard from her again until she resurfaced as the head of GJ.”
“So now she has some sort of personal vendetta?” Shego surmised.
“She has a lot of those,” Dr. Possible responded. “Shego, I told you that story in hopes that you’ll understand that what Betty’s doing to Kim has nothing to do with you. You’re not to blame.”
“And you are?” Shego challenged.
“Nobody is,” Anne replied. “Betty is the only one to blame for this. Not me, not you, and especially not Kim. We just have to trust that it all works out okay.” She sighed and slid deeper into her chair.
She would never have said it, but Shego could see it in Dr. Possible’s eyes. “You’re worried, aren’t you?” The voice was genuine, free of sarcasm. Dr. Possible looked at Shego with the most serene expression the green woman had ever witnessed.
“Shego, as a doctor, I’m used to high-stress situations. Not knowing whether someone will live or die, it takes a lot out of you. Even more when that person is your own flesh and blood. As a mother, I’m worried for Kimmie, but I’ve also learned to trust her to handle herself. I can’t do anything more for her. I’ve taught her all I can, and I have to hope that’s enough. It’s what I used to tell myself every time she went out on a mission. I haven’t been wrong yet.”
Shego stared in awe at the woman in front of her. She was doubtless worried sick about her daughter, but she had learned to accept it and trust Kim to get through it on her own. It was kind of… inspiring. Dr. Possible turned to Shego once more and their eyes locked.
“Shego, I know what Kimmie does is dangerous. I accepted a long time ago that there’s a very real possibility she could die. But I’ve never known her to quit. She’ll make it, Shego. You have to trust that.”
Shego dipped her head and sighed. “I know you’re right, it’s just… so hard.”
“I know, Shego,” Dr. Possible reassured her, standing up. “You should rest for now. Try to have faith. Promise me, even if Kimmie doesn’t make it back, that you won’t run off until I release you. I’m a healer first, Shego, and I don’t want you going anywhere until you’re fully recovered. After that, you can go wherever you want. But until you’ve healed, I want you to stay glued to that bed. Promise me?”
“I promise,” Shego replied. She meant it, too, much to her own surprise.
“Good,” Dr. Possible said warmly. “Now then, I do have other patients. Is everything alright in here?”
“A-OK,” Shego assured her, giving her the “thumbs-up” sign.
“Alright then.” Dr. Possible was now at the door. “Do you want your light off so you can get some rest?” Shego nodded. Just before Dr. Possible clicked the lights off, Shego spoke.
“Thanks. For everything.”
Dr. Possible smiled warmly. “My pleasure. Good night.”
The door clicked shut and Shego adjusted the mattress so that she was laying all the way down. A smile crossed her face and she let out a sigh as she drifted off to some well-deserved sleep.
A figure crept along the empty halls of the Global Justice infirmary. Given the figure’s size, he should have been seen immediately, but only if the guards had infared goggles to trace his heat signature. Tiny optical chips in the fabric recorded the wavelength of what little light shone in the darkened halls and sent out a counter-wavelength, literally bending the light around the suit and the person wearing it. It was quite ingenious, and very handy. But then, Dr. Wade Load was a genius. More than that, a supergenius.
With no danger of being seen by the cameras, all that was left to worry about was the prospect of someone actually hearing him, made easier by the heavily padded soles of the boots. Besides, there was only a skeleton crew tonight. The rest of the staff was at some big meeting, which Wade hadn’t been invited to anyway, so he doubted he’d be missed. The guards tonight weren’t even human.
If Wade hadn’t been convinced that Betty Director was evil before, the sight of a synthodrone just meters away confirmed this theory. Only villains used artificial henchmen. GJ had always prided itself on being run by flesh and blood. Not anymore.
Wade considered killing the synthodrone, but that wouldn’t have done him much good as the other synthodrones would have seen the gooey remains of their comrade and begun to suspect someone was here. Syntho-goo was a bitch to clean up. So he just decided to stand still and wait until the sentry passed. Soon he was all by himself again.
The halls of GJ Headquarters were designed like a maze. Every end lead to something, of course, but there were so many intersections one could easily get lost if they didn’t have a HUD built right into the mask of their super suit. In order to conceal his face, Wade had to come up with a mask that covered his entire head, making him look like Mr. T in a ninja suit, albeit without the Mohawk. A translucent map was directly in front of his face, guiding him to his destination by GPS.
His breathing began to get shallower as he neared his destination. He had to be sure. This wasn’t a hacking job. Anybody could rig an image on the security cameras. He needed to see it with his own two eyes before he’d believe it. He needed to prove this—for himself.
The supergenius’ heart began to thud softly in his chest as he approached the door. It required coded access. Nothing he couldn’t hack. But he had something quicker.
Taking out a small electronic device, Wade plugged it into the keypad. A lot of people who used this method used code crackers, which operated on a complex set of algorithms to do what was essentially a process of elimination. They were ineffective 90 percent of the time, however, and Wade needed something guaranteed to get him past the thick metal door.
And so he had invented this. Similar to a thumbdrive, the device plugged into a port and, instead of trying to crack the code, it simply rewrote it, replacing the system’s program with its own. In his head, Wade chuckled. The people who designed this stuff were on the lookout for people who would seek to defeat their precious handiwork. It never occurred to them to safeguard against someone who merely wished to commandeer the system for their own purposes. He knew this because he had been one of those people. Within moments, the door hissed open. And Wade stepped through, taking the device with him so he could get back out.
Shutting off his HUD so that he could get a better view, Wade’s eyes focused on the sight in front of him. He breathed a sigh of relief. Thank God.
Though the chamber was dimly lit, Wade could still see enough to make out a slumbering female form on the bed in the cell in front of him. She looked so peaceful. Creeping closer, he peered through the Plexiglas. She was about twenty feet away, but he could still make out her angelic face that looked so utterly serene, delicate eyelids shut due to sheer exhaustion. The dark bags under her eyes had disappeared with sleep, and the blood had been wiped from her skin. Her soft, auburn hair had even been neatly combed, and her breaths rose and fell steadily and peacefully.
Wade suddenly wondered why he had spent so many years underground, focusing on dead people, when keeping people alive was what he enjoyed doing most. The years he had spent helping Kim and running her website were the best years of his life. Even though she had always been out in the field, he was a huge help, and Kim had always made sure Wade knew that. It was Kim who had helped him overcome his agoraphobia—fear of going out in public—and come out of his room more often. That’s what Kim did. She helped people. And she had inspired Wade to do the same.
Already a plan was brewing in the supergenius’ mind. Dr. Director would doubtless keep trying to break her until she succeeded, so Wade needed to strike when the Director was most vulnerable. Unfortunately, that time was when she was torturing Kim. There was something about the spirited redhead that caused her to lose control, and in order to take full advantage of this, Wade was going to have to put Kim in harm’s way. She would be willing to take the same risk, he was sure. Kim always sacrificed herself for others.
“I’ll get you out of here soon, Kim,” he whispered to himself, confident that nobody would hear him. “You just stay strong, alright.” He paused. This was the hard part. “Kim, I love you.” Even though she would never hear it, he had to say it now, or else he would never make peace with it. “I’ve always loved you. Before I met you, I was just another kid who never came out of his room. But… you gave me a purpose. You made me feel like I could do anything. At first I thought it was just a crush, but… a typical crush only lasts a year. I realized that I loved you the night of the junior prom, when you realized you loved Ron.” He sighed.
“It’s kinda funny,” he continued, no longer caring who heard him. “You never know what you’ve got till it’s gone. I always knew you would never feel the same way about me as I did about you, but… to have that special secret felt… nice. I was an ass. You were right to doubt me after Ron died. Part of me thought, ‘Good, now I’ve got her all to myself.’ I was jealous of you and Shego. I thought, ‘Hell, if she can hook up with her arch-nemesis, there might be hope for me after all.’ But that was stupid. I let my jealousy land you here. And now, I gotta get you out. An apology won’t do you much good. But, if it’s any consolation, I’ve got Shego someplace safe. With someone who loves you and will understand your new relationship.” He stopped.
“I love you Kim. Even though I know you’ll never feel the same way, I just want you to know I love you. And I always will. I’m gonna help you anyway I can. Stay strong, Kim. I’ll do what I can.”
With that, he turned and left, sneaking back the way he came, never noticing the audio-visual camera in the upper corner had switched to an infared lens.
Whenever a large amount of people gather in one place, conversations become contests. If you can’t hear what you’re saying over the dull roar of the crowd, you speak louder. This in turn makes the noise of the room louder. The other sections of the crowd, all carrying on their own unique conversations, now have to speak even louder to hear themselves. And so the cycle continues until the entire room is engulfed in chaos and anyone standing in the middle of it is overwhelmed at the dozens of things being said at once, trying to sort it all out in their finite brain.
Anyone, that is, except Betty Director.
Whenever an authority figure enters the scene, the need to speak louder than everybody else disappears and the whole crowd becomes rapt with silence. All eyes turn towards the one who has just come onto the stage. The figure holds such power over the crowd that is, for the moment, awestruck. All eyes are focused on this person. It can be rather intimidating. The trick, they say, is to imagine the audience in their underwear. But if everybody is in their underwear, then the one wearing extra garments is the one singled out. And so focus is drawn back to the lone person who commands the attention of the room.
No, the real trick is to remind yourself that you’re better than they are, or they wouldn’t be paying attention to you in the first place. But you don’t flaunt this. Your actions must reflect this sense of power, but you must stroke the audience with your words. Let them know you’re on their side. Win their sympathies. If you control the majority, you control everything. Of course, when you have them all whipped to begin with, it’s a lot easier.
“Hello, gentlemen.” Dr. Director’s voice was flat and confident, filling the small room that housed an entire rogue’s gallery. This operation was top priority, and she treated it very seriously. The men in this room were hailed by some as the most dangerous men alive, but compared to Dr. Director, they were kittens. Pawns in a chess game they were too insane to understand. They belonged in a mental institution, but they were good at one thing: drawing a lot of attention to themselves.
Raving psychos stand out in a crowd. Eccentricities that are not the norm will be taken note of by the masses. The criminally insane are newsworthy. For some morbid reason, people really want to hear about how a man wearing a dress kidnapped and raped a six year old girl and then dumped her body in the river. Not that the present company was even capable of such a thing. Hell, they were just overgrown toddlers, too egocentric to realize that what they did actually had consequences. But that worked to Dr. Director’s advantage.
“As you are all undoubtedly aware, I have called you here for a very special mission. A mission that will change the world forever. A mission that will see Global Justice as the most powerful organization in the world.”
“So? Get on with it, lassie! Ah’ve been waitin’ three hours on ya’ sorry arse. Wha’s all this abou’?” Dr. Director didn’t even have to turn her head to know who had just spoken. Hell, nobody even took their eyes off of her.
“I apologize for the delay, Mr. Killigan,” the one-eyed woman replied in the most formal of tones. “I was hard at work on another part of the plan. It took a little longer than expected.”
“A lil’? Ah dunno ha much longa’ ah can listen to these lunatics! They’ drivin’ me mad!”
Dr. Director kept her honest opinion of that remark to herself. Now was not the time to be burning bridges. “I assure you, it was worth it. I got what I needed.” She was lying, of course. Five hours of intense torture and she was still no closer to breaking Kim than she had been on day one. Still, this part of the plan was ready to move forward at least.
“If we’re quite done, I think Betty wishes to share something with us.” The refined British accent was a far cry from the crazed Scotsman. “I suggest we let her.”
“Thank you, Lord Fiske,” Dr. Director spoke up. The monkey-man’s response was an elegant nod. “Now, if you please, I do indeed have something to show you.” She grabbed one of the buttons on her uniform and undid it. A gasp fell over the crowd. What was she doing?
As always, it was Professor Dementor who broke the tension. “Oh yez! Now ve are getting somevere! I was about to be ordering some Pay-Per-View porn! Zis meeting is zo boring! Finally ve are getting some action!” A room full of accusing eyes were suddenly focused on the vertically challenged mad-scientist. “Vat?”
Dr. Director, meanwhile, smirked. “I assure you it’s nothing like that, gentlemen. Although I promise you will like it, Professor. After all, you’ve stolen this sort of technology before.”
“Vat is zat supposed to be meaning?” the bewildered Austrian asked. “I have stolen plenty of technology! Be getting to ze point already!”
In response, the one-eyed woman tore off her uniform to reveal a skintight bodysuit. It was navy blue in color, with patches of psychedelic red adorning the arms, legs and waist. It hugged her shapely curves, and every tongue in the room was suddenly hanging out of their respective mouths.
“Oh, right, zat technology. Ugh, don’t be reminding me.” Professor Dementor was clearly less than enthused. Dr. Director knew why.
“I thought you looked cute in a dress,” the head of GJ teased.
“It vas a HOUSECOAT!” Dementor bellowed, standing up and trying to look intimidating. However, this isn’t the best strategy when you’re less than five feet tall. Still, the German accent helped express the anger and Dr. Director decided to let it go. She didn’t want anybody leaving.
“Och, ya think you’ve go’ it bad, try having every lil’ bugger callin’ ya a ‘bearded lady’! I’S A KILT!” Duff Killigan lifted it up to show everyone, who all averted their eyes. They didn’t want to test the rumor that Scotsmen didn’t wear anything under their kilts.
“Gentlemen, I assure you, these super suits are not at all emasculating. Agent Du.” A stone-faced Asian man strode out calmly to display an outfit similar to Dr. Director’s, only it was black and the red patches were arranged in a tribal pattern that wrapped like a serpent around the arms and legs. Spirals adorned the two halves of the chest, with a straight line going down the middle. Each shoulder was emblazoned with a demonic crest, and the visage of a Chinese dragon was stretched across the upper back. It looked far more masculine.
“Most interesting,” Señor Senior Senior mused as he stroked his chin. “Junior, what do you think?”
“It is very manly. And it harmonizes quite well with your hair. Do you by any chance use Le Goop?” Agent Du nodded. “I use it as well,” Junior boasted as he pulled out a comb and began to touch up his helmet head.
“Dude, seriously, that outfit rocks heavy metal! W-A-A-A-A-AH!” Motor Ed’s air guitar antics drew the attention of the room. Negative attention, that is.
“I’ve been reduced to working with a bunch of buffoons,” Monkey Fist lamented. “Though with a few adjustments, that would look very nice on my monkey ninjas.”
“So wha’s ya’ price, lassie? I’ can’t be free.”
“That’s the beauty of it. We’re offering these suits to you, free of charge, for you to do with them what you wish. Think of it as a… reward.”
“Okay, now I am being confused,” Professor Dementor spoke up. “Vat are ve being revarded for?”
“Gentlemen, as you are all undoubtedly aware, Kim Possible has been out of the world-saving business for quite some time.”
“Yes, we are quite aware of that,” Señor Senior Senior responded. “I thought that our reward was to be cash.”
“Are you saying it wasn’t?” Dr. Director challenged. “Global Justice was the one who saved your financial empire from bankruptcy. All I’m asking in return is that none of you use this technology to completely take over the world.”
“And vy not?” Dementor protested. “Vy should ve even be accepting your offer in ze first place?”
“Because I know that all you gentlemen are attracted to power like moths to a flame,” Dr. Director stated plainly. “It’s not in your nature to pass something like this up.”
‘Besides,’ she thought‘ I have you wrapped around my little finger. You’ll be good little puppets and take the bait. And then, the governments of the world will be begging for my help.’
“This is a good point,” Junior admitted, drumming his fingers along his chin. “But why are you just giving them away?”
“Really, you should be used to this sort of thing by now,” Dr. Director replied. “Global Justice has been supplying you for years.” It suddenly occurred to Dr. Director that these men had a very difficult time separating reality from fantasy. Were they forcing themselves notto remember how they had been on her payroll for all these years? Most fascinating.
“I believe what everybody is trying to get at is, ‘What’s your angle?’ Why do you need us?” Monkey Fist’s sudden intrusion on Dr. Director’s thoughts couldn’t have come at a better time. She was about to say that she didn’t need them. But if all they wanted was honesty…
“I’m sure you all remember what happened with Kim Possible.” Everyone in the room nodded and muttered under their breath.
“Yes,” Senior replied. “I believe we were to be part of some sort of training program for Ms. Possible. Most unfortunate that it failed.”
“On the contrary, gentlemen,” Dr. Director spoke with a voice full of pride. “Your purpose was to create a safe environment in which Kimberly could practice fighting crime. You fulfilled your duties wonderfully. Now I must call on you again.”
“Fa’ wha’, lassie? Ah don’ suppose you wanna take ova’ the world nau’?”
“Actually, that’s exactly it, Mr. Killigan.” The rogue golfer’s eyes went wide in surprise. Dr. Director smiled inwardly. Fools. “Crime has grown far too rampant and the world governments aren’t doing nearly enough to stop it. If Global Justice were to be in charge, however, we could afford to be much tougher.”
“You’re forgetting, Doctor, that we are criminals,” Monkey Fist reminded her. “What’s to say you won’t just abandon us once we’ve served our purpose?”
‘That’s exactly what I plan to do,’ Dr. Director thought to herself. ‘Smart little monkey, aren’t you? I suppose I’ll have to spin the truth on this one.’
“You’re only criminals by the existing laws. I see nothing wrong with your ends. It is just your means that warrant the attention of the law. If the law were to be changed, however, you would be free to pursue your… eccentricities however you wish. If I were in charge, Iwould decide what is and isn’t criminal.” There. That should do it.
It worked. The room burst into chatter. Will Du walked up beside Dr. Director. Together they surveyed the crowd. “Easy to fool, aren’t they?” Du spoke, watching as the villains talked excitedly amongst themselves.
“Like bribing a baby with candy,” Dr. Director replied.
Finally, after much discussion, the group of villains turned to face the one-eyed woman. Monkey Fist acted as the spokesman of the group. “Very well, Betty, we’ll take them.”
Dr. Director smiled. “Excellent,” she hissed.
Shego had been staring at the hospital tray in front of her for half an hour. It was like a train wreck. You don’t want to look, but you just can’t take your eyes off of it. Cautiously, she poked it with a fork. It didn’t move and try to attack her, so that was a good sign. You never could be too careful with all the stories you heard. Despite having been intimately acquainted with hospitals since an early age, Shego had never grown accustomed to what they called “food.” It was almost as if they served the food to keep people from getting better so that they could continue charging them with outlandish bills.
She pressed harder with the delicate plastic fork, trying to penetrate the meatloaf. She was met with a chunk of plastic that nearly hit her in the eye as the tines splintered off. Not like she wanted to eat the “food” anyway. Shego torched the meatloaf with a plasma blast.
“Careful now, don’t use that too much or you’ll pass out,” Dr. Possible warned as she opened the door. Shego jumped in surprise, a little guilty for having earned such a comment from her doctor. Anne seemed nonchalant, however, so Shego breathed a sigh of relief and formed a retort.
“I’d pass out if I ate that cardboard too, so I prefer to go with the option that doesn’t involve a mouthful of chipped teeth.”
Dr. Possible looked mildly shocked. “Shego, are you saying hospital food is… bad?”
For the first time in her life, Shego found herself worrying that she may have offended someone. “Um, no!” she stammered. “It’s just… you see I…” Dr. Possible nodded, letting Shego stumble over her words, almost afraid to stop the green woman from making a complete and utter fool of herself. At least, that’s how it seemed to Shego, who found herself actually caring what the mother of her lover thought of her. Even worse, she felt she was blowing it. The hell with it. “Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.” ‘There, now you can hate me like everybody else.’
Instead of acting like her brothers would have and go off on a tirade about how ungrateful Shego was being, Dr. Possible simply laughed. “Don’t worry, Shego. You and I are of the same opinion. They tell us to say it’s good for you, but I usually tell patients that they make it bad on purpose so people will want to get out of here as soon as possible.”
The warm, genial tone that Dr. Possible was adopting put Shego at ease. “I always though it was some big conspiracy to make patients sicker so they could stick ‘em with more outrageous hospital bills.”
“With the looks some of the cooks have been giving me, that may not be too far off.” The two women shared a laugh. Shego found herself feeling good for a change. Almost enough to make her forget about… Kimmie!
“Speaking of conspiracy theories,” Shego spoke up, her tone getting more serious. “Heard anything about Kimmie yet?”
Dr. Possible sighed and looked away. “Not yet,” she admitted. “But at least we know she’s alive. Wade called in last night.”
“Remind me later to thank Geekmeister for putting me in here. Betty really did a number on me.” She paused and her tone grew worried. “How is she?”
“Recovering,” Dr. Possible stated. “At least Betty’s decent enough to give her sufficient medical attention.”
“She just doesn’t want her prize getting damaged,” Shego said. “She doesn’t give a damn about Kimmie’s emotional well-being. Trust me, she makes Drakken’s mom look like…” She paused, unable to complete the analogy.
“Look like who?”
Shego blushed a deep green. “Well… you.”
Dr. Possible had met Mrs. Lipsky once. The thought made her shudder. “That is bad.”
Shego nodded. “You know, you’re actually pretty cool. If I hadn’t already met you, I’d have assumed you were Kimmie’s sister.”
Now it was Dr. Possible’s turn to blush. “You’re just saying that.”
“Nope, it’s true.” Shego was smiling. “You’re one hot mama.” There was an awkward pause. Then both women burst out laughing.
“Kimmie’s very lucky to have gotten a mom like you,” Shego spoke after a moment, getting serious. “You did a great job raising her. I wish I could have had a mom like you.”
Dr. Possible smiled warmly. “You haven’t turned out half as bad as the media makes you out to be. You’ve done a decent job raising yourself.”
Shego’s heart bloomed at the compliment. “Thanks,” she managed after several moments, unsure of how to respond to that. “I was worried you’d think I was a bad influence on your daughter.”
Anne laughed. “If anything, you’ve been a good influence on her. I remember after Ron died, she seemed so different. Like some part of her died with him. But you… from what Wade’s told me, you were able to bring that Kim back to life. Even before that, when you two were still enemies… I could tell that you were exposing her to the darker parts of life that she wouldn’t have learned from hanging out with the crowd she did, but that she needed to know if she was to grow up. She was able to learn from your mistakes, Shego, and you’ve helped her get a more balanced perspective of the world.”
“I have made a lot of mistakes, though,” Shego pointed out.
“We all have,” Dr. Possible reassured her. “What’s important is what you learn from those mistakes. I’ve seen you make an effort to change yourself, Shego. You’re not the same person I met on that train. You’ve made yourself into a person my daughter can love. Anyone willing to do that isn’t a bad influence in my book. Not by a long shot.”
Shego was surprised when she felt a tear make its way down her cheek. Wiping it away with a sniffle, she whispered, “Thank you.”
Dr. Possible just smiled and put her hand on Shego’s. She felt the green woman squeeze in response. They held that position for several minutes. Finally Shego broke the silence.
“I’m scared,” she whispered. “What if she doesn’t make it? What if it’s all been for nothing? What do I do then? She’s all I’ve got left, Doc. I don’t know what I’m gonna do if she dies or Betty figures out a way to break her. I can’t live without Kimmie.” She paused and let out a chuckle. “God, I sound so pathetic right now.”
“No you don’t, Shego,” Dr. Possible reassured her. “You just sound human. I don’t know what I’d do without Kimmie either.”
They sat in silence for the next half hour.
“Good morning, Kimberly. How did you sleep?” It wasn’t the mock-concern or the fact that she had been sleeping quite peacefully that upset Kim. It was the person who said it. Rather than get angry, however, she decided to be a smart-ass.
“I was dreaming about tacos.”
Dr. Director decided to play along. “Did you eat the tacos?”
“Every last bite. I can’t get enough of those things.” Inside, Kim had to fight the urge to burst out laughing.
“Was there any lettuce on those tacos? Some special sauce, perhaps?”
“Trust me, they were dripping with hot sauce.”
Dr. Director tried not to chuckle. “What color was the sauce? Red?”
“Then what color was the sauce?”
Kim paused for a second. “Green.”
Dr. Director fought to keep a straight face. “I always thought green sauce went on enchiladas, not tacos.”
“These were special tacos.”
Kim smiled. “Very special. Just the way I like ‘em.”
“Like marshmallows on hot dogs?”
“I don’t like hot dogs anymore.”
They paused for a moment. Neither spoke. Dr. Director knew exactly what Kim had just said, even though a passive onlooker would have just thought they were debating the finer points of Mexican cuisine. Eventually she couldn’t hold it in anymore. The head of Global Justice burst out laughing. Kim quickly followed suit.
After a good five minutes of nonstop chortling, Dr. Director spoke up. “So, tacos, not hot dogs?”
“I choked on a hot dog once. Not a pleasant experience.”
Dr. Director laughed again. “You always did have a sense of humor, Kimberly. I hope you’re able to keep that optimistic attitude when you’re my slave.” Kim set her jaw and glared. The conversation had just turned serious.
“You couldn’t do it after torturing me for five hours. What makes you think you’ll crack me?”
“I went easy on you,” Dr. Director snarled. “I could have made it a lot more painful.”
“What stopped you?” Kim challenged.
Dr. Director let out a sigh and softened her expression. “Even I have limits, Kimberly. I could tell that you were ready to die before you’d submit. So I gave you your wish. But now that I spared your life, I truly own you.”
“Haven’t you heard? Slavery went out of style in the 1860s,” Kim flippantly replied.
Dr. Director didn’t seem to hear her. “Your every breath is a gift from me. You wouldn’t be alive right now if I hadn’t brought you back.”
“I wouldn’t have died in the first place if you hadn’t been so obsessed with your precious little machine. I don’t owe you anything. Why is it that every villain I meet wants to play God?”
“Because God won’t use his powers in areas where he should,” Dr. Director snapped. “If he wanted to, he could stop all the crime in the world just. Like. That.” She snapped her fingers. “But he doesn’t. Why?”
“Because he doesn’t want to?” Kim suggested.
“Exactly,” Dr. Director hissed. “He can, but he won’t. I, on the other hand, can and will. And nobody can stop me. Not even you.”
“You know what happens to people who try and play God?”
The question was rhetorical, but Dr. Director responded anyway. “What?”
Kim grinned. “They go to Hell,” she spat.
Dr. Director huffed. The redhead always did have a razor sharp wit. Time to attack her on more personal grounds. “They say the same thing about people who eat…” She tried to think of a term that would hit Kim close to home yet still sound intelligent. “…tacos.”
Kim’s face turned red at that remark, but she was not blushing. No, she was angrier than Shego during her-time-of-the-month. The only sound that made it past her lips was a low growl.
Dr. Director smirked. Good. That threw her off her game. Time to go in for the kill. “I wonder where Shego is right now.”
The anger disappeared from Kim’s face and instead she appeared wounded. She hadn’t thought about that. Suddenly the argument with Dr. Director was no longer on her mind and the shift in emotions proved to be too much for the redhead. As a result, she just sat there in shock. All she could do was stare. A tear slowly slid down her cheek.
“Don’t worry, maybe you can join her there if you don’t survive. I’m sure you’ll be very happy together.” She paused and lifted a finger to her chin. “No, wait, that’s right. You’re a good girl, aren’t you?”
“Better than you,” Kim snarled through clenched teeth. Her eyes had become fountains.
“We’ll see about that,” Dr. Director retorted as she turned and left, leaving her conquered prisoner to cry alone. After she exited, she stopped and smiled. This was easier than she thought.
And so everything is in place for the final battle. That should be fun to write. What will Dr. Director do when she finds out that Wade has smuggled Shego out of her clutches? How will Kim react when she learns Shego is alive? Will Dr. Director die, or will Kim sentence her to rot in a prison cell for the rest of her days? Will Shego get her powers back in time to help Kim? And most importantly of all, will Kim and Shego be reunited, or will I be evil and wait until the sequel to get them back together? Find out in Chapter 16 of The Silence, coming… whenever I write it. Please read and review. No flames, please.