Be sure to read the Author's Note at the end of this chapter.
Title: Undercurrent (7/7)
Spoilers: Inspired by the third season episode "Bonding.
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: Kim and Shego find themselves having to get a lot more up close and personal than they'd like. NOT part of the "Unacceptable Sitch" series, this is a response to a challenge for a Kim/Shego version of the episode "Bonding".
Kim stood motionlessly while Shego vented her anger and frustration by splashing the empty hangar with balls of flaming green plasma. Shego appeared to be throwing her fire indiscriminately and wildly, but Kim was under no apprehension of being struck. And, in fact, she wasn't. Shego remained perfectly well aware of where Kim stood, and not once did she take a shot at her.
"Enjoy your tantrum?" Kim finally asked when Shego stopped swinging.
Shego didn't answer, not directly. She breathed heavily and muttered something under her breath as her shoulders rose up and down.
"What?" Kim asked.
It was only when she drew closer that she realized Shego was not talking to her, was not even really paying attention to her. She was talking to herself in a whisper instead. "One more month," Kim heard her say. "Dr. D owes me that much. Mothball the death ray, ship out to Barbados, by then I'll - "
"Two months didn't help you," Kim said. "Why bother trying for three?"
Shego finally turned on her with a snarl. "This is just so goddamn funny to you, isn't it?"
Kim stepped back, surprised. "Funny!"
"Yeah, ha ha, the evil sidekick that couldn't! You can just waltz right into Drakken's lab and do what you like with him!"
"Look, first of all," Kim said, offended, "this isn't some kind of ruse to get past your defenses."
"I'm still here, aren't I?"
"Second, I can tell you from personal experience that another month, or even six, isn't going to do you any good."
"Personal experience? You have a lot of experience with being unable to fight your enemies?"
"I have experience with worrying about you," Kim shot back.
"Worrying about me!" Shego said, scandalized.
"I spent the last month wondering where the hell you'd gone to. I thought maybe you'd gotten nerve damage from the shocking," Kim said. "Maybe you couldn't fight ANYone any more."
"I do not need your fucking PITY."
"It wasn't pity, it was concern," Kim said. "It's not pity when you - respect someone."
Shego gaped at her.
"Don't get me wrong, I don't agree with your choices in life, and I think you're wasting your powers and your life on Doctor Drakken," Kim said sternly. "But it's impossible for me to not respect someone who fights as well as you do. Not to mention the suffering you were dealt by your collar, and you bore it all. That kind of strength doesn't come from comets or cheerleading practice."
"Respect, concern, caring," Shego sneered. "Those words don't mean anything to me."
"Now you're just deluding yourself. Otherwise we'd still be fighting right now."
"Our lives would BOTH be easier if we were," Shego said.
Kim privately admitted Shego wasn't entirely wrong. "Whether you're right or not," she instead said, "it doesn't change the fact that we are where we are. What are we going to do about it?"
"I should just start hitting you," Shego growled. "I'd get over it by the third or fourth time."
"If you believe that, then why don't you?" Kim asked.
Shego startled her by doing so. She dove forward, and Kim's first instinct was to dodge. She didn't, though. She didn't even defend herself. The first blow was delivered into her midsection, and she bent slightly. Shego followed with an uppercut to the jaw, then turned 180 degrees on her heel as she threw Kim back with a kick from her other leg.
Kim briefly wondered if Shego even realized she'd powered down first.
As she rolled onto her side and looked at Shego, gingerly touching her chin, the villainess stared back, not trying to kick her while she was down. Then Shego stepped back once, twice, turned away.
"Just in case this is another word that's not in your vocabulary," Kim told her, "I think what you're feeling right now is remorse."
Shego looked to her side without meeting Kim's eyes. "I . . . I looked at you there, and I thought about how much I must have looked like that in the street after Monkey Fist attacked us. And you - "
Kim wanted to tell her to go on, but she knew Shego didn't respond well to direction.
"It . . . meant a lot to me, what you did that day," Shego finally said. "And I just did to you what Fiske did to me."
"Shego," Kim said, "whether you like it or not, whether you're evil or not, what binds us more than a pair of metal collars ever could is our common humanity. Why does it seem like you want to deny yourself that?"
"Because I'm an evil sidekick, Kimmie. Remorse and caring isn't in the job description."
"I'm not sure 'evil' applies to you quite so much now, Shego," Kim said gently.
Shego frowned. "Get up already," she told her. "It makes you look helpless, and we both know how bogus THAT is."
Kim got to her feet. "Now what?"
"Not sure," Shego said. "Being good never interested me much, except when I was clobbering someone. Being bad is what I like being, but now it looks like I'm not as bad as I thought I was. So what the hell am I?"
"You're Shego," Kim replied. "No last name necessary."
Shego chuckled darkly. "Let's go see what the boys are up to. I need to think about this."
"Um, okay. Nice kick, by the way."
They walked in silence. Silence had been a good refuge for them when they'd been collared, and it worked here.
"All right, I've almost got something," Shego said finally. "Don't say it, it's coming to me, it's - "
"And it's gone," Shego sighed. "WHAT?"
"Dispose of him!" Dr. Drakken demanded, pointing at Ron, who was surrounded by henchmen.
"Ron!" Kim said.
"Don't worry, KP, it's all under control."
"How?" Kim asked, folding her arms.
"Well, actually it's under Rufus' control."
Rufus waved from his position, standing on a big red button on a console.
"Shego!" Drakken whined. "If we attack the buffoon - "
"Oh, come on, she just SAID my name!" Ron complained, pointing at Kim. "Would it kill you to pay attention for once!"
"The rodent pushes the self-destruct button and the lair goes boom!" Drakken finished.
Shego put a hand over her face. "Dr. D," she groaned, "didn't I say after the fifth or SIXTH time this happened that you should build self-destruct buttons that COULDN'T be pushed by two-pound rats?"
"Eh?" Rufus asked. He stomped down on the button with both feet, and it didn't budge.
"That was my idea for the millennium," Shego said.
"Yes, yes, I forgot about that! Excellent work, Shego! You've - " He seemed to notice finally that Kim and Shego weren't fighting. "Why is Kim Possible not defeated, Shego?"
"Yeah, well, I'd rather not talk about it," she muttered. She pushed past Drakken, swept Rufus aside with one hand, and mashed the red button down.
This lair will self-destruct in E-minus thirty seconds.
"E-minus?" Kim asked. "Don't you mean T-minus?"
"I knew it was one of those 'ee' letters," Drakken mumbled. "Shego! What are you - you're still punishing me, aren't you?"
"Well, the truth would take too long to explain, so for now, yes, I'm still punishing you," Shego said.
E-minus twenty seconds.
"Every man for himself!" Drakken screamed, grabbing his nose and running out of the room. The henchmen scattered.
"Why was he holding his nose?" Ron asked.
"Sometimes he forgets if he's in an underwater lair or not," Shego explained.
"Maybe we should - " Kim suggested.
"Not a big deal," Shego said, shrugging. She opened a panel next to the red button. A green button was inside, and she pushed that.
Self-destruct sequence stopped at ten seconds and holding.
"I always asked Drakken WHY he needed a self-destruct button," Shego said, "and he'd just say it was traditional. Finally I got him to add an abort button."
"He seems forgetful today," Kim said.
"He can't even remember the buffoon's name," Shego said. "Why would you expect him to remember any ideas other than his own?"
"You can't remember my name either!"
"I can. I just choose not to waste the energy."
"Much as I'm enjoying the banter," Kim said, "we still have to talk about the future, Shego."
"Something came to me," Shego replied. "I'm just full of ideas these days."
"What is it?"
Kim blinked. "Retiring?"
"I'm no good for crime if we're going to be like this, and I'm sure as hell not going back to Team Go. I'll just scrape my funds together, find myself a nice beach somewhere, and taking a permanent vacation," Shego said.
"Sounds nice," Kim said. "Boring, but nice. What about us?"
"What ABOUT us? We never see each other again, that's us."
"What? But - "
"Look, pumpkin," Shego interrupted. "Just because I don't like hurting you any more means I want us to be friends."
Kim sighed. "It's your decision, Shego, but I wish you'd at least contact me every so often to let me know you're all right."
"You could give me your number, but I'd just tear it up."
"Which would be a somewhat empty gesture, since everyone on the planet knows how to reach me through my website," Kim said dryly.
Shego grunted. "I'll - send you an email some time."
"I'll take it."
"Yeah, well, I'm also giving you ten seconds to get out of here before the place blows," Shego added, smashing the red button again.
Countdown reinitiated. E-minus ten seconds.
"Hasn't she ever heard of a head start?" Ron complained as Shego vanished into the shadows without another word, even a farewell.
"Politeness is just one of those words that Shego says doesn't mean anything to her," Kim replied as they ran for it.
There were four high-profile museum robberies over the next month. The police could only determine the thief was female, and quite skilled. Shego was suspected, but her role wasn't proven.
Kim was asked for her help, but she declined. It wasn't TOO difficult - all four paintings stolen were on loan to the museum from the private collection of Senor Senior Senior. Eventually Wade was able to trace who purchased them on the black market, and Kim busted them instead.
Drakken threatened the world three more times. The first time, he relied on his bargain-basement henchmen. The second time, he shelled out big bucks for top-of-the-line henchmen from Jack Hench, but he had very little left over for death rays, and he was forced to threaten Cleveland, Ohio with a giant vacuum designed by, of all people, Frugal Lucre. The third time, he was just bluffing. The death ray was made of cardboard.
Needless to say, Kim found these missions ranged from "easy" to "not worth the effort".
She never did hear from Shego, though.
One day, Wade told her she had a hit on her website. A "Senorita Ellava" claimed her island estate had been invaded by Marxist guerillas, and she needed rescuing - by Kim and only Kim. Kim noted that "ella va" was Spanish for "she goes", and told Ron she'd be back in a day.
Even if Kim HADN'T known Spanish, she would have known something was up the moment her parachute opened and she realized that she couldn't see any structure on the uncharted island below that could be considered an "estate". It looked completely wild.
The inhabitants were certainly deadly.
"Hey Princess, you better stay on your toes!"
Kim looked up as she trampled through tropical underbrush and saw two balls of plasma descending towards her. She leapt backwards and assumed a defensive posture. What was Shego doing? Had she decided she didn't mind hurting her after all?
Shego leapt down from a tree branch and began raining punches and kicks on Kim. The heroine had little time to do anything but defend, but she also refused to take the few opportunities she had to attack. Shego could be maddeningly unpredictable, but unless she realized this was an elaborate trap, Kim wasn't going to engage her.
"That pesky remorse thing taken care of?" Kim asked as she grunted, absorbing the force of Shego's blows through her arms.
"Why Kimmie, are you saying you were actually in danger of being hit by my plasma?" Shego asked, grinning wildly.
"Well - no."
"Fine then. If I'm not trying to actually HURT you, then I can fight you all day. Because I gotta tell you, permanent vacations are dull as dirt. Almost thought about getting a job."
"Oh, so I'm here to amuse you?" Kim asked.
"Not enjoying yourself?"
She was, actually.
Still, it was weird when Shego suddenly pulled away and threw her, of all things, a bottle of water. "Drink up, pumpkin," she said. "Or the dehydration'll kill you faster than I could if I wanted to."
Kim chuckled and drank. "I'm going to need a ride back at some point, you know."
"You got time for dinner first? I figured we could - get to know each other a little better."
"I thought you didn't want to be friends."
"Oh, I don't. I'm hoping I'll learn that there's nothing to like about you after all. Then I can go back to villainy and the joys of kicking your ass without having to worry about my 'humanity' getting in the way. You, on the other hand, can go on being afraid of hurting me for as long as you want."
"You're taking a gamble. After all, you MIGHT like me more."
"Yada yada. You here to fight or swap fantasies?"
For the first time, Kim was fighting Shego and allowing herself to enjoy it.
Author's Note - Wow. I cannot begin to emphasize the role that the hundreds of you who have read this story played in getting this story finished. Earlier last year, when I took a moment to review my list of unfinished writing projects and decide which ones I REALLY wanted to finish and which ones I didn't, originally this story was on the "didn't" list. It was conceived as a lark, a response to a challenge, and I had my Unacceptable Sitch series to work on.
And so it sat there, four chapters. And every month, five or six reviews trickled in, people asking me when it would be updated.
I didn't expect people to connect with this story to the extent they did, and that's why I finished this.
You'll notice that this is not technically a "Kigo" story. I figured most of you, if not ALL of you, expected it to be. Certainly review sentiments skewed in three directions - those of you who wanted Kigo, those of you who didn't but assumed it would happen, and those of you who encouraged me not to. I think in the beginning I had some vague idea of making it Kigo, but I went this route for a few different reasons.
One, I chose a very open ending. Readers can assume that Kim and Shego will eventually become lovers, or friends, or quasi-sisters, or enemies again. None of you are wrong. I don't know what will happen to them myself.
Two, I've always said that Kim/Shego is a relationship that needs to evolve over time. No matter how traumatic the collar situation was, it simply wasn't enough to change the dynamics of their relationship THAT quickly. Let's work on them becoming friends before they become lovers.
Three, I wanted the broader audience to enjoy this. There are plenty of readers out there who don't like Kigo for perfectly normal reasons, and I didn't want them to walk away and say, "Oh hell, I knew that was going to happen, that sucked!"
And four, I wanted this to be considered completely separate from Unacceptable Sitch.
I want to thank everyone who had something to say in their reviews. It meant a lot to me.
For those of you who have been reading the Sitch stories, Under the Milky Way Tonight will not begin for a month or two while I work on other projects. Thank you for your patience.