Stupid boy! Dr. Drakken thought. What was he thinking, coming here alone? If I hadn't stopped her, Shego would have put in the hospital! And perhaps I should have let her... because NOW what am I supposed to do with him?

He looked over the top of his terminal screen to the far wall of the laboratory, where Ron Stoppable was manacled to the wall. Ron was studying the lair, apparently, looking around at the ceiling, the upper-landing, the doors, the machines...

Drakken's eyes lingered.

Then Ron looked back toward where Drakken sat, and the Dr. quickly looked away, afraid he'd been caught.

Oh, real good, Drew... he always thought of himself as Drew, despite what he told people to call him, what, are we in High School too, now? Gawking at the pretty...

He didn't finish it in his head, either, but looked back at the blueprints on his terminal, trying to get his mind back on his latest plan for World Conquest.It involved giant mechanical spiders. He sighed. He couldn't think straight with that boy hanging there.

Half my age! Well, nearly. It's not right. I KNOW it's not right... I KNOW why it's not right. There are good reasons. The Law is right about this one... dammit! He sighed again. It occurred to him that he was sighing pretty much constantly. This couldn't go on...

He tried to put on his Mad Scientist face and got up to walk over to the boy.

Ron said, "Things not coming together for you? Tough nouggies. Kim's gonna be here any minute, you know... might as well give up now and save us all some time."

Drakken didn't say anything, but took the keys from his pocket and unlocked the manacles around Ron's wrists.

"Go" was all he said.

Ron was confused. "Go?"

"Yes, just go."

It had to be some sort of trick, some kind of trap... He tried sarcasm, to buy time until he could figure it out.

"Why would I want to go? I was just wondering what were going to have for dinner!"

The Dr. frowned, looking at him for the first time since he'd gotten up from his chair.

"See here, Stoppable... I'm setting you free. No tricks, nothing up my sleeve. So just get out of here. Now. Let me get back to my work." He turned around to make his way back to his desk.

Ron's eyebrows raised, "You know my name?"

Drakken stopped and closed his eyes. THAT was stupid! Good show, Drew, he knows you know his name now. Pretty soon he's going to wonder -

"If you know my name, how come you never use it?"

Told you. JOLLY good show, Drew.

"Just GO! Leave me alone!" Drakken shouted with his back still turned, eyes closed.

But Ron didn't. There was something going on here, and he wanted to know what.

"Okay, I'll go. Soon as you tell me why you let me."

Drakken sighed heavily yet again. No BLOODY way! "SHEGO! Shego, get down here!" he yelled.

Silence.

"SHEGO!" he yelled again.

Still nothing.

"She said she was taking the rest of the night off, if you remember" Ron said, "How can you be such a great scientist when you can't remember things from half an hour ago?"

"Oh. Drat. Yes, I remember now... Drat."

"So again: why are you just letting me go? No mind-control stuff, no ridiculous devices stuck on me... nothing. What's up with that?"

Still not facing the boy, Drakken only said, "You don't want to know."

"Try me."

Drakken whirled, showing real anger and frustration on his face, "YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW! Now get out of here before I... am forced to... to... to DO something!"

"Like what?" Ron wanted to know.

Drakken threw up his hands. He looked desperate. "Fine! If you won't go, I will! I expect you to be gone in ONE HOUR, Ron! You hear? One hour!" and he stormed off.

Ron thought, So he knows BOTH my names! What the heck does he mean, 'I don't want to know?' Ron chuckled to himself. Dr. Drakken was SO weird... kind of like a cross between Dr. Director and Bozo the Clown, with an unhealthy dose of brat thrown in for good measure. He got so flustered so easily it was... well, it was cute.

He walked out of the Lair uneasily, just the same. Something was SO wrong, here.

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Shego was a bit incensed, "Whaddaya mean you 'just let him go'!"

"What was I supposed to do with him? Besides, sooner or later, that Kim Possible would've come looking for him... and I have work to do. There was no -"

"You could've just let me put him in the hospital!"

Drakken winced because he knew that would have been the logical, appropriate, and proper thing to do. It would have kept him out of the way for awhile... He needed an excuse, something that sounded more clever than "I can't bear to see him hurt".

"True. Which would have just made Ms. Possible that much more upset." Brilliant! "This was the best way to keep a low profile. Really, Shego, you must leave the planning to me. At least until I start drawing a paycheck from you." Touche'!

Shego huffed, gave him a scornful look, and stomped off back to her room.

Drakken wiped the sweat from his forehead and went back to his giant mechanical spiders. What about mutant, flesh-eating bunnies? Nah... been done...

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Kim was a bit incensed, "Whaddaya mean he just 'let you go'!"

"I dunno KP... One minute I was manacled to the walls, then he comes over and unlocks me, and tells me to go. Just like that."

"You ask him why?" Kim had been ready to kick some blue ass, and to find Ron just walking calmly away from the lair had been such a downer...

"He said I didn't want to know."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Kim asked suspiciously.

"Beats me. He was real insistent about it, though... kinda strange. But he walked out on me before I could get anything else outta him."

"Turn around. I wanna see if there's a Compliance chip on your back, or something -"

"No, Kim... nothing like that. I don't have any gaps in my memories, either. It was like I was distracting him from his Take-Over-the-World scheme or something. And he was looking at me funny. In fact, once..." Ron had remembered catching the Dr. staring at him, and then looking away when Ron caught him. He realized, THAT was a situation he was familiar with, having been on the other end of it so many times at school.

"Once what?"

"Uh..." the implications were too staggering and weird to think straight, "Uh... I forget. What was I saying?"

"Ron – turn around. Now."

He rolled his eyes and turned around to let her check the back of his neck. The idea that Dr. Drakken might have been – might, have been, mind you – checking him out was still creeping him out Big Time. That's SO sick-and-wrong! I mean... I mean... SO sick-and-wrong! I mean...

He kept thinking that all the way home, but never followed it up with anything else. It was the easiest, safest thing to think, so he thought it. Over and over and over.

As a result of which, other parts of his mind began to wander.

"Ron? Why are you blushing like that?" Kim asked, slowing down to drop him off at his house.

He was blushing... he could feel it. And he realized that – while he'd been re-affirming to himself how "sick-and-wrong" it was – being "checked out" by somebody, anybody, even Dr. Drakken was... well... kind of... cool.

I mean, IF he was 'checking me out'. I mean, if he was checking me out like THAT. I mean... sick-and-wrong? Sick-and-wrong! Don't even GO there! Gah!

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"Ron! You find Drakken, I'll take care of Shego 'till the cops get here!"

"Got it KP!"

"Take care of me? Well, we'll just SEE about that, Princess!" Shego smirked, and a green fire-ball sailed right in front of the red-head's face. The fight was on.

And while it raged – likely to be a long time – Ron ran through the halls of the Smithsonian looking for the blue mad-scientist. The blue mad-scientist who was crushing on him. He smiled with anticipation as he looked in gallery after gallery. This was going to be fun!

Ron found him in the Egyptian Artifacts Gallery, dressed in "civvies" - civilian clothes. Rather smartly dressed, too: a gray suit with black pin-stripes, matching vest, watch-fob, fedora... even a black umbrella with a silver eagle's-head handle. Ron had never seen such a thing. If it weren't for the blue skin and scar, he might not have recognized his arch-enemy. As it was, he said without thinking -

"Whoa! You're lookin' FINE, Doc!" Then he realized what he'd just done and cringed inside and out. He hadn't meant that the way it sounded... under these... conditions...

"You!" Drakken responded, dropping the Imperial Candy-Cane and a hunk of the Sphinx's Beard.

"Oh, c'mon, Drak. You know my name. What's my name? Doc? What -"

"Very well, Stoppable. You're certainly in good spirits for someone about to be scorched to ashes!"

"I don't think so, Doc. Kim's got my back – Shego's gonna be occupied for awhile. You know how that goes. Just you and me, now" Ron could see Drakken's eyes trying to avoid looking at him. He smiled wider. "Nice umbrella. Poison gas? Tranquilizer darts? Puh-lease don't tell me it's a 'laser' " he held up both hands to make quotation marks.

"Ha! Shows the depth of your imagination! Welcome to my new Explodo-Ray!" Dr. Drakken pointed the umbrella at Ron threateningly.

But Ron was too busy trying to keep a straight face to worry about it. He also knew, somehow, that Drakken wasn't about to so much as scratch him, let alone kill him. Still trying to stifle his giggles, Ron said -

"Explode – oh – Ray?" He choked a laugh back, with difficulty. "Explode - OH – RAY? You can't be serious! C'mon... really? Explode – oh – Ray?" Finally the snorts came, followed by outright laughter.

"Yes! My new..." Drakken began, but stopped. Ron was trying to hold his sides in, as if he was already about to explode. His hair bounced as his body shook. Drakken had to look away, and actually blushed pink under the blue of his skin.

"What?" Drakken asked, abashed by the unexpected reaction of his nemesis. Ron's laughter had died down to a constant giggle.

"What's so funny? Explodo-Ray! You shoot it, and things explode! What would YOU call it?"

"I dunno, Doc, but I'd HIRE somebody to name it, if I had to, before I'd call it an 'Explode – oh – Ray'!" Ron cracked up again.

Perhaps a demonstration is in order... Drakken thought, and aimed just to Ron's left. He pulled the trigger, and a blue line of something that looked like a cross between liquid and light shot from the umbrella into the wall ten yards behind the boy. Said wall exploded, and then collapsed.

Which, of course, triggered the alarms. A twenty-ton steel door slid down from the entry-way into the Gallery and before the smoke from the aftermath of the Explodo-Ray had cleared, they were trapped.

"Drat" Was all Drakken could think to say.

"So blow a hole in the door... big deal" Ron suggested.

"Well, you see... it's just that..." Drakken stalled.

"It short-circuited, didn't it Doc..." Ron said dejectedly. Poor Doc.

"Shego will get us – I mean, me, out." But not until she's through playing with that girl Possible... he added silently.

"Maybe. If the cops don't get here first." It looked like they would have some time to kill, together. "So, what was the Big Plan, Doc? What do you want ancient Egyptian artifacts for, anyway?" Ron asked, making hero/villain small-talk.

"Power source. Never you mind what for. Besides, I like Egyptian things. I like turquoise and gold, lapis-lazuli... The Egyptians had style for three thousand years. I'm impressed by that."

"Never really cared for it myself. Kinna 2-D, if ya know what I mean."

The small-talk went on for an hour. Drakken was smart, even if he was goofy. And Ron was goofy, though he was clever in his own fashion. Ron commented on the suit, flustering Dr. Drakken. Dr. Drakken, in turn, told Ron how frustrated Ron's seemingly random ability to foil his plans made him feel, flattering the boy. With nothing to do but wait, they found out more about each other in that hour than in the previous three years.

Drakken sat on King Tut's throne and looked at his watch, "You'd think they'd be about done by now... Shego and Kim, I mean."

"Oh, you know how they are. I swear, if I didn't know better, I'd think they almost liked... uh..." Ron wasn't sure he wanted to complete the sentence. At least, not here, not now, not with him.

"Yes, I've noticed that too. I really think they might be."

"Might be what?" Ron knew the answer. Did he just want to hear the words?

Drakken actually looked into Ron's eyes, for just a second, before pretending to be interested in the Imperial Candy-Cane again. "Might be homosexual. Tell me that's not what you were thinking, and I'll eat this candy-cane."

Ron didn't answer. The whole subject was... taboo. He'd been thinking that about Kim for some time, even tried to "feel her out" about it, to no avail. If she was, it was buried deep. And as he wondered how deep, and what to do about it – as if it was any of his business – he began to wonder if he had anything to hide, as well. He didn't think so... but Ron knew himself well enough to know that "I don't think so" could well mean something different than flat-out "no".

"Well?" Drakken waited for an answer. Ron's answer - if he answered - would break the ice on this particular subject. And Ron had set himself up for it! It was too ironic!

"Yeah, it's what I was thinking. But we don't talk about it! Got it? Whatever's between Kim and Shego is their business, not ours. Right?"

"As you wish, Ron."

That marked the first time tonight he had called him "Ron", and Ron looked at him trying to guess his game. Dr. Drakken was still studying the artifacts in his hands.

Ron sighed. He hated games like this... mostly because he always seemed to lose. And Drakken may have had a lot of "Bozo" in him, but he was older, and probably wiser, at least in some ways. And he really did look fine in that suit... He sighed yet again. Yeah, so he looks good in the suit. Doesn't mean anything. Doesn't mean... anything...

Meanwhile, Drakken was thinking; First Base: we share a secret. Maybe next we can play 'Spin the Bottle' or 'Truth of Dare'. Bah! What am I doing? I'm supposed to be conquering the world, dammit! I have giant mechanical spiders to outsource! He sighed inside, which was expressed outside as a very slow, deliberate blink of his eyes. So, he's cute, he's clever, he has a certain... random skill. Alright, already, so he's adorable! I admit it! He's also a teenager! You remember being a teenager, Drew?

The problem was, he really didn't. It was that long ago. He could remember things that must have happened when he was Ron's age, like getting his driver's license, but that was about all. He had to count back to even figure out what grade he'd been in school. So it was absolutely impossible for him to wonder what it might have been like if some one – some man – twice his age had ever... had a relationship with him. That was why it was wrong. One of the reasons, anyway. There were others, but that was The Biggie. At least in this one area of life, even Dr. Drakken, evil master-mind (in his own mind), believed in the Golden Rule.

"So, what about you, Doc?" Ron asked, jolting the Dr. out of his reverie.

"Um... pardon me? What about what about me?"

"How long have you been..." Despite having rehearsed the line a dozen times, Ron couldn't actually bring himself to say it.

"Evil? Well, since this one time when -"

"No."

"Blue? I was in an accident with -"

"No!"

"A scientist? Oh, I've always had -"

"NO! GAY, Doc! How long have you been GAY!"

Point of no return.

Well, THAT worked out just right, didn't it Drew? Isn't that what you wanted? Not like that! NOT LIKE THIS! Bloody hell.. dammit all to bloody hell... What else to do?

"Always" he said simply.

Like Ron hadn't guessed. What did he expect the Dr. to say? Since 3:30 in the afternoon Sunday, May 13th, 1972? He suddenly felt silly – and very, very young – for having asked. He began to walk toward some more-distant artifacts. "Sorry, Doc... I dunno why I asked that. None of my business... I just..." Take a breath, Ron. "Anyway, uh, I won't tell anyone. I mean, if you don't want me to."

Drakken considered; should he ask Ron the same question? He wanted to know. He badly wanted to know... But, did it make a difference? Was he seriously considering... well, was he? To fantasize about was one thing. Would he... No. Concentrate on your work, Drew. You have that. Wasn't it Budda who said that suffering comes from desire? He would have to look that up, when he got home. Old Budda might have been onto something there...

"Aren't you going to ask me the same thing? Fair is fair..." Ron asked from the far corner of the Gallery.

"No" Drakken said quickly, before he would have a chance to think about it.

"Why not?"

"Because... because I don't want to know." Not exactly the truth, but not exactly a lie, either. Half-and-half.

Suddenly, the vault door opened, revealing Shego and Kim, still fighting each other. One of them had obviously punched he "door open" button. It didn't really matter which one. Drakken gathered up the artifacts he was stealing.

"Doc... Drakken, I mean, Dr. Drakken" Ron stood in front of the opening facing him, "Please put that stuff down so I can let you walk out of here. Please?"

This was something new. Young or not, the boy did have the power to stop him, and they both knew it. But to just let him go?

"You... you'd do that?" Drakken asked wide-eyed.

"I owe ya one, don't I? Now c'mon, put 'em back. Let's both get outta here before the cops come and start asking a lot of questions..."

"If the police were coming, they'd be here by now. Even DC police aren't this slow." Drakken considered his options.

Ron looked him in the eye, "Okay, then just drop 'em because I asked you too, nicely. And said 'please'."

There were other power-sources for giant mechanical spiders. Drakken put the Imperial Candy-Cane, and Sphinx's Beard fragment back into their display-cases. He walked toward the waiting Ron empty-handed. But Ron still wasn't moving to get out of his way.

"What? I've done as you requested, have I not?"

Ron carefully considered his answer. He was the one in control of the situation now, and didn't feel so young as he had before. Drakken was in his hands...

"Yeah. I was just wondering if you'd wanna go get something to eat, before we all head home." Going for broke.

Kim had Shego in an arm-lock, which the green one of the pair was just about to break out of it with a new move she'd been practicing, when they heard Ron's question and froze, looking at the man and the boy in the Gallery.

Drakken thought for a minute, everyone watching him. His face went through quite an astonishing range of expressions. Finally, he seemed to settle on one.

"Oysters?"

"ICK! Pizza."

"I'm afraid not. Steak, then."

"Deal" Ron said.

"Need a lift? My hovercraft is right outside. Seats four."

Ron and Dr. Drakken looked at the girls.

"Y'all comin'?" Ron asked.

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More to Come? I honestly don't know.