Title: But For the Grace of Ron (7/7)
Spoilers: Takes place after "No Living in the Past". Knowledge of the events in "A Sitch in Time" would be helpful.
Feedback: Some of you have been extremely helpful, and I hope you'll continue to do so. New reader opinions are encouraged too!
Disclaimers: Kim Possible, Ron Stoppable, Shego, Wade, and all other characters from the Kim Possible television series belong to Disney, its television production arm, and the creators and producers of the animated series. All original characters are my invention. I seek no profit from writing this, and expect none.
Summary: Exiled from her time and trapped in a past she doesn't recognize, the Supreme One from "Sitch in Time" wants to resurrect her future and destroy Team Possible. But what if stopping her means Kim and Shego - never met?
Kim didn't even consider whether or not it was dangerous to remain close to the portal. She circled around it, needing to see how Shego was. The Supreme One was still screaming, and because their voices were so similar, there was no way for Kim to tell if Shego was screaming as well.
Before she could move completely around the portal, however, there was a small explosion from within, followed by a wave of energy that swept out in all directions. Kim caught it in her chest. She grunted as it lifted her up and knocked her ten feet away. Landing on her back, Kim lay there for a minute, unable to catch her breath. Her ribs groaned, and she felt relieved when she touched her chest and her hand came away unbloodied.
"Shego," she whispered.
"Ron?" Kim asked as Ron stumbled over to her and helped her sit up. "What the hell was THAT?"
"Beats me," he said. "I hit the dirt when the Supreme One began screaming. Whatever that wave was, it passed right over me."
Kim grabbed his shirt. "Shego - what happened to her?"
"I don't know, I don't see her anywhere."
She felt her eyes tear up. "What if she's gone, Ron?"
Ron looked confused for a moment. "Wouldn't we have forgotten her then?"
Kim stopped. "You're right," she realized. "We wouldn't remember her. Shego! SHEGO!" she called out, struggling to her feet with Ron's help. "Ron, where was she standing?"
"In front of the portal, over - huh, no more portal."
Kim looked where Ron was pointing, and sure enough, both the portal and the Supreme One had vanished. Sappho appeared to be at an odd angle, however. Small crackles of electricity danced around the spaceship's middle.
"Ron, you go see if Sappho is still functioning. If Shego was still standing like I was, then the energy wave must have knocked her backwards too." She ran in the direction she'd seen Shego last.
"I'm fine!" Shego snarled in the darkness a few feet to her right. "Jeez, you can stop calling my name already."
Instead of replying at first, Kim found Shego, fell to her knees, and pulled her into a fierce hug. "I'll say your name as many times as I want," she murmured into Shego's hair, "as long as you're still here."
Shego blinked, startled, but then she pressed closer to Kim and put a hand on Kim's waist. "I am, aren't I?"
"You are," Kim confirmed, smiling like an idiot.
"So she was lying after all," Shego said. "Making me worry like that - she really was a psychopathic bitch, wasn't she?"
"She was," Kim agreed. "Not that she ever existed."
Shego chuckled. "Yeah, that's true. Although why do we still remember her then?"
"Let's leave that to Dr. Director, okay?"
"No problem. This time crap makes my head hurt." She pulled away from Kim and ran a hand through her hair. Her hand stopped in mid-motion, however. Shego held out her hands and looked at them. "Oh, fuck," she whispered. Then she fell back and beat her head against the turf. "Fuck, fuck."
"What?!" Kim asked, panicking.
Shego held up her bare hands. "When the Supreme One stopped existing, so did her gloves. Damn it!"
"I swiped her own gloves and wore them myself. It was so good having my plasma gloves back! But now they're gone too."
"Uh, Shego? You're still you, and you're bitching about your gloves?"
"I've got to bitch about something," Shego muttered. "Or people will start to wonder about me." She frowned. "I would have sworn she was telling the truth. Those gloves HAD to have been from the future. No one's ever been able to duplicate the technology. Now I don't even know where they came from!"
Kim shrugged. "Is it important? Maybe some other kindly time traveler took pity on you."
"Took pity on me?" Shego got up. "Oh, that tears it. When I find this person, I'm kicking their ass."
"Hey, girls!" Ron came running over. "Sappho's a little off her game."
"She must have had a few circuits fried," Kim said.
They followed Ron and found Sadie communicating with Sappho. "How is she, Sadie?" Kim asked.
"She's been flirting with Ron," Sadie said. "Obviously she's got a switch flipped somewhere."
"All the robot ladies are lovin' the Ronster!" Ron said, pointing at himself.
Sappho continued to lean drunkenly on the football field. Her hull was now purple with orange polka dots. "Shego?" she asked, sounding dazed. "You are unharmed?"
"Yeah, I'm good," Shego said.
"That is - good. I've been meaning to ask you. Don't you think Ron has the nicest ears?"
Kim quickly covered her smile with her hands as Shego just stared at the ship.
Ron grinned at Shego. "Hey, let's hear some of that 'being nice to me'. Tell me how sexy my ears are."
"You're right, Stoppable. I can't resist touching them," Shego said. She reached over and grabbed one of his ears, twisting it.
"Out of the way," Shego then said, moving past him. "It's time I remind the ship who her favorite pilot is."
She vaulted over Sadie and entered the spaceship.
For a moment there was quiet as the ship was powered down.
Then the ship's hull went back to hot pink.
Kim almost jumped out of her shoes.
Shego strolled back out. "All better," she said.
"Shego, you can handle my control panel any time," Sappho purred.
Kim and Ron gaped at Shego. "What the hell did you DO in there?" Kim finally asked.
"Nothing really. I just rebooted her, grabbed the pilot's stick, and squeezed."
"Ewww," Rufus said.
"Ditto," Kim agreed.
"You are NOT repeating that in front of Doctor Freeman," Sadie warned her. "I swear, you're the only thing dirtier than Sappho's CPU."
"At least my CPU came with a personality chip!"
"Kim, Shego's making sexual remarks about a spaceship, and the machines are arguing again. Make it stop," Ron said, hiding behind her.
Kim just shook her head. "Come on, guys, let's get Ron's parents home."
(scene change - horizontal line button not working)
"Fascinating," Doctor Director said thirty minutes later. "I should write a paper on this. The Supreme One has ceased to exist, and all traces of her world have been extinguished. So why do we all remember her?"
"Hey, you're the expert. We're the ones asking questions," Shego muttered.
"Just thinking out loud, Shego," Dr. Director replied. "I do have a theory, however."
"Well?" Kim asked.
"First of all, the energy wave that emanated from the portal? That may have been the energy the Supreme One was unwittingly borrowing from the fabric of the space-time continuum. It was that energy, as I suggested earlier, that was fueling her healing powers. When she ceased to exist, however, the energy returned to the continuum in a single violent burst, striking some of you."
"And our memories?"
"Two possibilities," Dr. Director said. "One is that because those energies were a part of the Supreme One, in some small way the Supreme One became a part of the continuum when the energies were returned. Therefore she is still a part of our world, and remains in our memories."
Kim frowned. "I guess that kind of makes sense. What about the other possibility?"
"Well, if the Supreme One never existed, then the last few hours would have changed. Monique never would have been attacked, the Supreme One never would have called Shego at the nightclub, and so on. None of us would have any memories of these events, and in fact Monique would be completely unharmed while you and Shego might be at the Planetarium even now. The fact that none of this has happened suggests that a new alternate universe has been created."
"A new what?"
"Some have theorized that there an infinite number of alternate dimensions, each one created by a single decision that affected the flow of future events. For example, there may be another world somewhere out there exactly like ours - except in that world, Columbus never sailed to the Caribbean, and everything after that changed."
The faces of Kim, Shego, and Ron all showed their growing confusion.
"Therefore," Dr. Director went on blithely, "a new universe was born with the Supreme One's destruction. In one, she never appeared. In the other - ours - the aftereffects of her coming remain."
"I don't get it," Ron said.
"Neither do I," Shego said.
"I think I get it," Kim said.
Shego looked at her.
Kim caved. "All right, I don't understand either. Happy?"
"Very," Shego said with a leer.
Dr. Director sighed. "Look at it this way - does it really matter why we remember her? She IS gone, after all."
"Works for me!" Ron said.
"Thank you for all your help, Dr. Director," Kim said, rising.
"Don't mention it. I think I will write that paper. Temporal mechanics needs all the live data it can get."
Kim hesitated. "Before we go, could I speak to you privately for a minute?"
"Of course, Kim."
Kim looked at the others. "Wait for me outside?"
"Shego, you lucky girl," Ron said. "You get alone time with the Ronster, the guy all the robot chicks dig."
"Alone time with those lovely ears too," Shego murmured. Having put her older gloves back on, she snapped her fingers and moved them toward Ron's left ear.
"Aaaah!" he cried out, running for the front door. "Cold hands!"
Shego chortled and pursued him.
"They certainly are interesting together," Dr. Director mused. "So what's the problem?"
"I've been thinking," Kim said quietly. "If Team Possible is going to continue full-time, how am I going to finance the things we need? Are we going to be hitching rides forever?"
Dr. Director paused. "And you're asking me because - "
"Because you were only the head of Global Justice for years!" Kim said. "You've been in charge of an organization dedicated to fighting evil."
"We did have government funding, Kim," Dr. Director said. "I highly doubt you want to become an agency of the federal government."
Kim's shoulders slumped. "No, I just . . ."
"I completely understand, Kim."
"Of course. You and your friends have the potential to help this world for years and years to come," Dr. Director said. "I mean, look what happened tonight. You may have saved the entire universe! Kim, you need to remain at the forefront."
Kim nodded. "I was thinking the same thing. I can't sit back and allow the Acceptables and Supreme Ones and Drakkens to take over."
"Have you thought about charging for your services?"
"That - that's what Shego's been saying!" She frowned. "But isn't that kind of unseemly?"
"Well, I'm not saying you should expect payment before saving the world," Dr. Director replied. "But there are different degrees to the things you do. When a corporation asks you to recover stolen property the police can't find, for example, I think it's only fair that you should receive some form of compensation. When someone threatens to melt the ice caps with a giant laser, on the other hand, I'd suggest taking it on pro bono."
"I don't even have a college degree, Dr. Director," Kim said. "I can't go on missions AND make it into a business." She stopped. "But you could."
"I beg your pardon?"
"You ran GJ! Why don't you try running Team Possible too?"
"Kim, you're the leader. The team IS named after you, you know."
"Yeah, but you could handle the organizational aspects. Part of your job at GJ was being an administrator. You have years of experience none of us have. I just - " Kim looked down. "I've got enough pressure as it is. This would be a huge step. I just wish someone could help me with this."
Dr. Director looked at her calmly. "You do take on as much responsibility as you can manage, don't you? And then you add more."
Kim shrugged. "I can do anything, remember?"
"Naturally. All right. I will do it under strict conditions."
Kim's head rose. "Name them."
"One, you will finish getting your college degree."
"You sound like my mother."
"Two, I will handle the organizational and financial aspects of the group until one of you learns how to handle them yourselves. However, all leadership decisions in the field remain up to the three of you. Three is Thomas. I'll need to have him with me at all times."
"Hey, no problem," Kim said. "Feel free to spend a few company dollars to buy him more gadgets to tinker with. He could build us the next grappling hook gun."
Dr. Director chuckled. "Or something even bigger," she agreed. "Finally, when we receive hits at your website, I will recommend a suitable price to charge, or whether we should do it for free. I expect that, except for extreme situations, you will accept my recommendation."
Kim nodded. "It's not an easy decision for me to make. I'll need you to be firm with me."
"Kim Possible, I managed thousands of GJ agents. I can be firm. And then I can be strict. All right, Kim. When your team has a building you can call headquarters, let me know."
"Thank you," Kim said gratefully. She went over and hugged her.
Dr. Director looked surprised. Then she smiled. "You're welcome. It will be good to get back in the game."
"You have no idea how good," Kim agreed.
"Team Possible, Inc.?" Shego asked later that night, when night had practically become dawn.
Kim smiled and snuggled against her. They were cuddling lazily on Kim's bed, Shego's apartment being less than habitable now. "Sounds stupid, I know."
"Stupid, hell. It's you admitting I was right." Shego grinned. "You know I love to win."
"We'll still be doing missions for free," Kim said. "But those who can pay for our services - "
"I got it, Kim," Shego said. "You want to talk about tonight?"
"I was so afraid I wouldn't even get to say goodbye to you," Kim said softly.
Shego sighed. "So was I," she admitted. Then she scowled. "Damn it, why do I get so mushy around you?"
"Because not even time and space could keep us apart?" Kim asked, smiling.
"It might have something to do with the fact that you and I are spooning right now, too."
Kim agreed that feeling Shego's body against her own only seemed to amplify the connection they shared. "You think this will all last? You, me, us, Team Possible, all of it?"
"Beats me. That's why I don't get why I ever wanted a time machine. I prefer to live in the now, not in the past."
"And what do you think of 'the now'?"
Shego climbed over Kim and lay back down so they were facing each other. "I think 'the now' is pretty frigging great."
Kim moved forward and kissed her on the lips. "And now?"
"Now is looking better by the minute," Shego murmured before capturing Kim's mouth in a longer kiss.
And that was basically the end of the conversation.
Shego looked dubiously at the gloves she'd been given. "Are you serious?" she asked. "They don't even match."
"Try wearing something that goes with them," the other person said as they lurked in the shadows, leaving a frustrated Shego unable to see who it was. "Maybe something green and black, something form-fitting?"
"I do like the colors," Shego admitted. She put them on and locked them as instructed. When she snapped her fingers, her hands were bathed in green fire. "Cooool," she whispered. She waved one hand, and accidentally blasted a hole in a nearby trash dumpster. "Oh, I could definitely get used to these. How much you - want?"
Shego realized her mysterious benefactor had vanished.
"Damn," she muttered. "Still, I do love freebies. If you can't enjoy free stuff, then how can you be a thief? And with these - screw that jerk who turned me down tonight. I'm going to be more than just an ordinary henchwoman with these. I could even be - a sidekick!"
The teenage girl deactivated the gloves and strutted out of the alley, a new added confidence in her step.
High above her, her benefactor climbed over the roof's edge and stood up, brushing the dust from her outfit. "I cannot believe I just did that," she said. "Do you realize how many crimes I've abetted by giving those to her?"
"Look at it this way," Shego, one much older than the woman on the street below, said. "You're also saving the space-time continuum." She studied the display on the band on her wrist. "And judging by these readings, that's what we've done. No indication that the timestream has been adversely affected in any way."
Kim grinned. "Remember when temporal mechanics was something we didn't get?"
"We were so young then," Shego agreed, pulling her in for a kiss. "So has the passion gone out of the relationship yet?"
"Are you kidding? With the adrenaline we burn every day?"
"True," Shego said. "We'd better get back to our time. I'm not sure how long Team Stoppable can survive without the leaders of Team Possible and Team Go to bail him out of a jam."
"Remember when we were younger and you said you were going to be nicer to him?"
"No . . . no, sorry. Old age, you know."
"You're not even fifty!"
"I'm nice to him."
"You once scheduled a mission on his anniversary."
Shego chuckled. "Yeah, that was great. 'What's that, Ron? Tomorrow's your wedding anniversary? Sorry, my team has a mission, and seeing as how your honey's on my squad, I guess you'll have to postpone.' God, you should have seen the look on his face. I wish I had a camera that day."
Kim shook her head. "You're incorrigible."
"Yup." Shego pushed a couple buttons on the band around her wrist, and a beam emanated from the device, creating a man-sized portal in midair. "Time travel - ain't it cool?"
"I'll pass your appreciation along to Tommy," Kim said dryly as they walked through the portal, hand in hand. "You know how he loves being - "
Then they were gone.
To be continued in If You Build a Better Monkey!
Their relationship for once secure, Kim and Shego follow a lead to central Africa, where Monkey Fist and a new ally believe that with their new and improved minions, the world will beat a path to their door.
(Author's Note - Thank you to all my new and old readers who have reviewed this fic. I realize it's shorter than the others, but it's actually longer than I originally planned. It was always meant to be a relatively short story. The next - and last - two stories will be longer.)