Kim released Sheaghen to give Shego an evil glare, but the synth only burst out laughing.
And, as with most things Sheaghen did, it was contagious.
(Six months later)
"Shego! I'm glad I caught you! We need to talk a minute... In private. Follow me" Sheaghen said cryptically. The GJ's only green, plasma-wielding agent followed her anxiously into the empty break room with her eyes narrowed. It wasn't like Sheaghen to want privacy. Ever.
"Okay, what's this all about?" Shego asked.
"I... uh... I've met someone. Actually, I met him some time ago, but I've only recently made up my mind about him. So... I'm gonna need a favor. And you're not going to want to do it. So just get ready, okay?"
This was not boding well at all. Shego sat down, ready for whatever the bad news was going to be.
"I want to be anatomically-correct. Shego, let me have your genitalia."
Shego sat stunned, but not as as shocked as she might have been. She'd been thinking that this day would come, sooner or later. Sheaghen was too human – or human-like – to deny such a fundamental facet of humanity. She was bound to bring this up sooner or later.
I should have never let her have the nipples. One thing leads to another... oh, gawd Shego thought.
It wasn't so much that Sheaghen would be walking around with a copy of her... privates... she could deal with that. It was the thought of who she might use them on that worried her. That, and who was going to have to build them in the first place... And where he was going to store the "molds". How weird was that? Imagine if the... specs... ever got out. ANYone could buy their own "pocket Shego". Doy!
"I saw this coming, Sheaghen. First: who?" she asked seriously.
"Uh... I doubt you really want to know..." Sheaghen stalled.
"And besides, it won't be for a few years yet, I think..."
"YEARS? It won't be for YEARS? What the hell do you mean -"
"Remember, Shego, I'm a machine. I'm pretty much immortal, with proper maintenance and care. A few years is nothing to me. And if it does work out, I'll have to watch him die, as well. So don't think this is like a wild fling or something... I've been thinking about it a long time, especially in human terms. Man-years. I'm saying this because I want you to understand how serious I am about it."
Shego could see that what the synth said was true. She would have to watch him die. She would be watching them all – and every one else currently alive - die, most likely. It was a sobering thought.
"Okay, Sheaghen. I think I see your point of view, as best I can. But I still want to know who."
"Uh... don't freak out, now... Yeah, that's gonna do a lot of good, Sheaghen... Ok, here goes: Wade."
"WADE?" This time Shego was shocked. Wade wasn't even twelve years old!
"I did ask you not to freak out. Yeah. Wade. We've been in contact – by electronic means mostly,of course – and... well, it's just that we seem to understand each other. I like him. I think he likes me. Mind you, I know how you meat-bags are, and things could change before he... starts making advances... in that direction. But IF he does, I want to be ready. That's all. And I'm asking you now in case it takes years to get you to agree to it."
Time must be really different for her, Shego thought, she HAS to think that way. She has her mind set on an eleven-year-old boy, and she'll wait for him to grow up. After he does, she'll wait for him to grow old, and then she'll wait for him to... gawd, poor girl... and she'll do that over and over and over... well, until she gets tired of it. I wonder how long that will be? I wonder if she'll... well, it's her life. But she's a lot like me, and she looks JUST like me. Except for that one, rather important detail.
She sighed. "You won't have to wait years, Sheaghen. I'm ready. You just get... whatever it is you'll need to make the scans lined up. I'd rather get it over with quickly, y'know."
"Really? You... you'll do it?" Now Sheaghen was shocked, or at least, was simulating acting that way. She really hadn't expected the human to be so... accepting, about it.
Shego looked into the mirror-image of her own face, into eyes that looked exactly like her own, "Yes, Sheaghen. I'll do it. Ready when you are. But -"
She couldn't finish because Sheaghen had lept from her chair and was hugging her fiercely, "Oh, THANK you Shego! I never thought you'd... THANK YOU!"
"(wheeze) You're... (wheeze) welcome... uh (wheeze) Sheaghen? (wheeze) need air... (wheeze)"
"Oh! Sorry. Little overloaded on the motor-control there. Heh. Seriously, though, Shego. Thank you SO much! I know this kind of thing is embarrassing to you meat – uh – humans. Figuring out some way I can blush is like, number four on my list." She gave the human another, almost life-threatening, squeeze, "THANK you!"
"(pant) Damn, Sheaghen! You're WELCOME already! (pant) Gawd... If you'll remember, I did say 'but'."
"Doesn't matter. I can handle 'buts'. But what?"
"But I can just barely deal with the thought of YOU running around, maybe forever, looking like me. I don't ever even want to THINK that... there will ever be more, okay? Mass-produced Shegos. So I want you to promise me you'll keep ALL the... data or whatever - that's used to create you as safe as you can from... well, from whoever. You understand what I mean?"
"Yeah. And I totally agree! Ewww. That would be weird. Doy. Don't worry, between me and Wade, we'll make sure NO ONE can ever get to my specs unless I want them to. So, we have a deal, then?"
"One more thing." Shego said. She had been suddenly overcome, during this conversation, with the feeling that she was somehow responsible for everything Sheaghen would ever do, until the end of time.
"Sock it to me. Consider it done" Sheaghen answered with a bright and un-smirking, smile.
"Make me proud. Okay?"
"Hey! Princess! YOU finally figured out what machines are FOR!"
"Okay, guys, Pumpkin. Here's the deal" Shego said, not sure how they might take it, "We're all going to Join, at the same time. Comments?" She didn't have to wait long.
"What?" "Shego, do you really think..." "What for? Look if..." "ALL of us? But..."
"ONE at a TIME people!" she cried. She knew there'd be some dissent, but she'd thought at least SOMEone would understand. Kim, if no one else!
No one seemed to want to go first.
Good. Give me a chance to tell MY side, then Shego thought. "Look, I know how it sounds. I know it sounds like a bad idea, on the face of it. I know it's dangerous, too... that's why I brought Sheaghen along, with some special stuff to make it as safe as we can." She paused, preparing herself for the hardest part. "I just have this feeling, I can't explain it, I don't know where it came from or anything, that it's the right thing for me to do. Despite everything that could go wrong."
Ron was familiar with that particular situation. It was what he'd felt when he'd offered to bring Shego – his arch-nemesis – back to the apartment Josh's brother rented, back when "The Four of Them" were just getting together. There were so many reasons he shouldn't have done that. But he couldn't deny the feeling that it was right.
Those feelings were gone now... they had disappeared with The Soldier. But he still remembered how it felt to know the right thing to do, and not be able to explain it.
"I'm in" he said.
Shego rolled her eyes, "Well, of course you're 'in', Ron! I need to Join with you again anyway! I was -"
"I would be in anyway, Shego, even if it weren't for the hand. I... I know the feeling you're talking about."
"Oh. Uh... yeah. Sorry, I didn't mean -" Shego began, somewhat embarrassed by how she'd spoken to Ron.
"Me too" Kim said.
That made Shego a bit nervous, "Uh... Kimmie... you don't have the feeling too, do you?"
"No. No, don't worry about that, sweet-heart. I think we're okay on that."
The three of them looked at Josh. Four, counting Sheaghen.
He was the only one who'd never been Joined with Shego before. But he had seen what could happen, and while it was "kind of neat", he could also see how there could be a bad side to it. He looked at Ron, then Shego, and finally Kim.
"If it's okay with you guys, it's okay with me. I'll trust your judgment about it."
That had gone far easier than Shego had thought it would.
"All right then. Sheaghen? Get the ropes."
Of course, they all had to strip naked, and so they all blushed. But it was made easier after Kim, and then Josh, started giggling, because soon they all were. Sheaghen laid a special mat on the floor, and they formed a tight square on it, arms around each other's waists - Shego, Kim, Ron, Josh, and back to Shego. Sheaghen slipped the rope in between each of them in a continuous loop, such that one pull would have the effect of spreading them all apart. As an emergency measure, Shego had a rope around just her, although no one knew if simply removing Shego from the group would be enough, once they were all Joined.
Josh felt the most nervous. No one seemed to remember that he'd never done this before. "Uh, aren't you guys going to give me some, like, helpful hints or anything?"
Ron told him, "It's not really necessary, Josh. By the time you need to know anything special, you'll know everything each one of us does, anyway. Just try to relax, let it happen. The hardest part is after it's over, and I've told you about that."
Josh sighed in resignation. He didn't know – no one knew – what he was getting into here.
"Everybody ready?" Shego asked. They all nodded.
"Okay. Here goes."
They'd done their best to prepare for any dangers or surprises – Sheaghen's presence was proof of that. But, as usual – as always – the unexpected happened... unexpectedly. And, as is often the case, they should have known.
The glow did not begin gently, as it had before, starting with Shego and gradually including her partner - or partners, now - and building to a crescendo of arc-light brilliance; but instead came on all at once: from nothing to blinding, in an instant. The unseeable source of the light came from the empty center of the square of bodies; rather than from Shego or her points of contact with the others.
Sheaghen's instructions had not offered any insight as to what to do in this situation. But she had been told to wait at least two minutes, in any event, unless something was obviously wrong. Did this count as "obviously wrong"? Her eyes - which were able to adjust to the light - showed her nothing extraordinary... no painful expressions on any of their faces, no burning skin where any of them touched. Was something wrong? Did they forget to tell her something? She decided that, unless something else she hadn't been warned to look for happened, she would give them the two minutes. But no more.
What they should have known was that they now formed a complete Set. The four of them. The reason it hadn't occurred to them was Josh's fault, in a way. Spending as much time as he could with Ron (albeit often in the company of Shego and Kim), and most of the remaining time either in school or at the GJ's computer lab, Josh had never really connected with Kim or Shego. He hadn't even really known either of them very well before he'd become involved with Ron. Ron, on the other hand, had known Kim most of his life, and his connection with Shego had been her bullet of sudden clarity. Kim, Ron, and to a lesser extent, Shego, had a history together. Josh did not.
Kim and Shego: Lovers.
Kim and Ron: Best Friends.
Ron and Josh: Lovers.
Ron and Shego: Comrades.
Josh and Shego?
Josh and Kim?
Four separate people, three distinct relationships.
In the normal course of human affairs, it took years for such relationships to develop to the point to where the partners could actually become aware of it. Under certain rare circumstances, it could be established within hours of intense shared experience, of one kind or another.
But it had never happened to anyone before like this: Josh and Shego found themselves to be Best Friends - instantly, without question, exceptions, or proof. And Kim and Josh discovered their Comradarie at the same time, and in the same way. No words – even unspoken – entered their minds - their mind. It was not surprising to him/her. It was far beyond question. It was a simple TRUTH.
And the TRUTH bathed them in its light.
At one minute, thirty-seven point three-zero-eight-six-nine-six-eight seconds, as Sheaghen counted it, the light flashed out of it's own accord. The four stood there, eyes closed, unmoving, for another eight point two-six-zero seconds. Then they all opened at the same time.
The emptiness did not come, this time. The feeling that something previously un-shared, then shared intimately, then pulled away again, did not fill Kim, Shego, and Ron the way it had before. They did not share each other's memories, they were not feeling each other's thoughts or emotions... they were Separate, each to his or her own.
But something had been left behind... something permanent, and if any of them had been worried about it, they could have spent the rest of their lives trying to figure it out.
But none of them would. It wasn't necessary.
(Five years later)
"So, Miss Possible, how's it feel to be a college grad?" Drakken asked, martini in hand.
Kim smiled at him, "Not all that different. I'm already behind in my grad-studies. When will it end?"
Dr. Mankey punched her shoulder as he went by, "If you're lucky, Comrade, it'll never end!" He'd received his first PhD, from Cornell, at the age of 19. But he considered himself still in school, and hoped he always would be. He walked over and sat by Ron on the couch.
Ron had been chatting with Ko. The GJ was letting her out with only the the ankle-bracelet tracker now. She had been telling him all about the new "Explodo-Ray" Drakken was working on, and they'd both been making fun of the name, laughing at Drakken's rather pulp-fiction, Flash Gordon mentality. Ko had been laughing so hard she rubbed her temples, which brought "Drew" - who always kept an eagle-eye on her – running.
"Are you alright, dear? Do you need to go lie down? Shall I bring you something to drink?"
Ko looked up at him and laughed again, "Oh, would you please stop hovering over me like a mother goose! I'm fine. Really" she took his hand in hers, "I'll let you know if I feel anything bad, okay honey?"
"Well... okay, then. But I'm keeping an eye on you. If I see anything -"
"YES, dear. Now run along. Go show your new web-shooter to Dr. Director or something."
Drakken frowned at her, but then saw Dr. Director standing by the punch-bowl, and began excitedly working his way toward her, fumbling with something in his pocket.
"He keeps you on kind of a short leash, doesn't he, Mrs. Lipsky?" Ron asked her.
"It's getting longer all the time, Ron. He doesn't know it – and don't tell him – but Wade got me added to his credit-card accounts. Next week, I'm going shopping!" she laughed again.
Ron chuckled and looked at Wade over in the love seat with Sheaghen-4. They were arguing over something having to do with "recursion", again. They did that a lot... Apparently, he was for it – whatever it was – and she against. And as usual, but especially when they argued, they were lost to the outside world. They wouldn't have noticed if the house had been on fire.
He looked back over at Josh, who appeared to be sniffing the air.
"Something burning?" he asked rhetorically.
Ron jumped out of his seat, "Holy Crap! My cheese-puffs!" and zipped through the crowd in a way only someone with Mystic Monkey Power could.
Josh watched him spin and weave and duck his way amongst the guests as if he were a video-game character. He never could see enough of that. It was amazing. Someone should do a study on efficient paths through chaotic circumstances, some time...
A scream tore through the room, "SHEGO!" It was Kim's scream. When someone yelled "Shego!" like that, it usually was Kim.
Shego was standing in the doorway in her black-and-green... sweat suit. She'd given up on the form-fitting body-suit months ago – it just didn't have the right effect, when worn on a seven-month pregnant woman.
"What'd she say? Is everything -" Kim asked her before Shego could even get her coat off.
She smirked at Kim, "Everything is fine, Pumpkin. Could you help me off with this thing? I don't quite have the moves I used to, y'know..."
Kim helped her get the coat off with a guilty look on her face. "And by the way, it's definitely a boy. Let's just hope he doesn't inherit Josh's ears."
The conception of the baby had been... an interesting time. They'd decided as a group – after Dr. Possible had informed them that any sort of Kim/Shego parentage was still decades away – that Josh would have to be the father because... well, because it would just be too weird to have Ron do it. Comrades, and all. WAY to weird. As a result, it actually took all four of them to make a baby: Ron's part was to make Josh forget who was sitting on top of him, while Kim performed a complementary service for Shego. And weird as that was, they all still preferred it to the cold, clinical, and just downright ICKY alternative.
"I heard that ear thing!" Josh yelled from the couch.
"Of course you did! That's what I mean!" Shego yelled back.
Outside, across the street, sat a solid white Mercedes, with the windows down. Lee sat inside it, smoking a cigar from Havana. He was in Middleton on other business, so this side-trip to the Possible residence was just a waste of time, and He knew it. The people inside were thinking of themselves as "happy". He knew better, He knew true Happiness, and what was going on inside the house wasn't so much as a speck of dust on the tip of the iceberg.
But it was about as close to Heaven on Earth as anything could be, in this Existence, and even He liked – when He could – to be around it.