Title: Four Years Later – Chapter the Nineteenth – Welcome to Our Lives
Pairing: Kim/Shego. Okay, seriously, now. If you've made it this far in the story, YOU KNOW ABOUT THIS! Stop reading if a same-sex pairing offends you
Rating: PG-15. Some language.
Disclaimer: I don't own Kim Possible. Kim Possible and all her friends, enemies, acquaintances, and gadgets belong to the Walt Disney Corporation
Well, here's to an astonishing year-and-a-half readers. Thank you so much for your encouragement and your patience. It's been a blast, and I hope the eventual sequel will be just as enjoyable to you all.
And now… Onto the Insanity!
For the first time in recent memory, Kim found herself waking up with the strangest feeling of contentment. As she stirred, she found herself wrapped in the warm, leather-bound arms of her long-time nemesis. Right at that moment, as she blinked away the last wisps of sleep from her mind, she could think of nothing – place or person – that could make her feel safer.
Here was a woman who had the power to topple stone pillars with a single swipe of her hand. This was the same woman whose power was so great, so awesome, no prison could contain her, whose plasma held such mysteries no scientist had yet been able to unlock its secrets. Shego, the world's undisputed champion of thieves, had the knowledge and skill of more than seventy styles of fighting – easily three times as many as Kim and she had time and again proven herself to be more than capable of taking on insurmountable odds with nothing more than her own body and mind.
And she was holding onto Kim's waist like a life preserver.
Kim smiled at the image and watched her partner's face while she slept. So peaceful…nothing like when you're awake. Kim reached out one arm to pull the taller woman closer, holding her around her shoulders. If this is the only place you find peace like this, I'll keep this time safe for you. I swear it.
Leaning back against the arm of the deep scarlet couch, Kim sighed happily as she gently stroked one hand up and down Shego's leather-clad back. "God, I love this couch."
She glanced at the wall clock and was surprised to find that a decent seven hours had passed since she and Shego had shifted positions on the couch so they could lie side by side with Kim tucked in between the older woman and the back of the couch.
Shego hadn't quite been ready for sleep so she'd spent some time going through her box of treasures with Kim, sharing a couple memories from time to time.
Kim slowly realized that she must have fallen asleep at some point because she didn't remember Shego ever stopping in her quiet reminiscing and the box was now sitting closed on the coffee table. Shego probably realized that her companion had fallen asleep and decided to join her.
A slight tingle in the back of her mind drew Kim's attention from the flat, white box to the woman beside her just as a low mumble emerged from the sleeping dragon.
Kim leaned over and watched Shego's pale, smooth face as she slowly woke up. "So beautiful, my Goddess…" Her voice was barely even a whisper as she cast her mind out and felt how her partner's mind was waking, blossoming with activity like a flower opening to the morning's light.
Shego's arms tightened just a little around her waist, "Mm…" her head burrowed deeper into Kim's fiery-red mane. "Kimmie…"
Kim couldn't help but smile and bent down to whisper into her partner's ear. "Time to wake up, Shego." She shook her shoulders lightly, "We've got to get to work…"
Shego groaned quietly and released her grip on Kim to reach her arms up above her head and stretch luxuriously against Kim's side. "What kind of work," she asked without opening her eyes. "I thought we agreed to a day off?"
Kim nodded slowly, "Yeah, but I'm rested and ready. Besides, the day's almost over now."
Shego chuckled under her breath. "You mean we slept through our day off? I haven't done that in years."
Kim smiled contently, "Do you need a few more hours?"
Shego moaned mournfully. "I'd like it but no – I don't need it." She finally opened her eyes and smiled at the sight of Kim's face so close to hers. "So, what'd you have in mind?"
Kim followed Shego's lead and stretched lazily, feeling her muscles loosening and warming up from their sleep. "I was thinking we could really use more information about what Global Just ice has been up to, so why don't we drop by Doctor Director's?"
Shego slowly sat up and swung her legs off the couch so she could sit with her back leaning on Kim's hips and pinning her to the couch. "Now that's an idea."
"Nice," Kim stifled a yawn, "Well, I don't know about you, but I could use a shower."
"Ooh," Shego grinned, "That's an even better idea." She ran her gloved fingers down Kim's soft, toned arms to take her by the hand. "So – to work?"
Kim made a small noise of protest. "Unfortunately."
Shego looked down at Kim, smiling softly. "Man, I just love this couch."
Kim giggled, "Yeah I know – it's the greatest isn't it?"
"Who needs a bed?" Shego continued, "I'll sleep on this thing with you every night."
Kim raised an eyebrow. "Is that right?"
Shego grinned, "Anyplace where we're side by side is comfy enough for me." A strange look crossed the thief's face, "And was that the sappiest thing I could ever have said?"
Kim couldn't hold back the soft smile that crossed her face. "My lips are sealed, your majesty." She even tossed a little salute into her proclamation. "Your Extreme bad-ass image is safe."
The older woman stood finally, pulling Kim with her and into her arms. "I was never worried for a second," she said, leading Kim out of the room and down the hall to the bathroom, "You want to know why?"
Kim extracted herself from her partner's embrace and smirked up at her. "Why?"
Shego's face mirrored Kim's, adopting a menacing glint. "You're delusional – who'd believe you?"
The redhead squawked in outrage. "Delusional? Why you-."
Shego stepped close, the gleam in her forest-green eyes brightening considerably, "Why else would the great Kim Possible turn to evil?"
Kim smiled despite herself, "Yeah, I must have been out of my mind. Quick," She fell into Shego's arms as if she had suddenly lost all her strength, swooning like an awestruck little girl. "Take me, Shego! Make me yours before my sanity returns!" She said it all in a desperate, breathless voice as she stared up into her girlfriend's shining eyes, surprising herself by keeping a straight face.
Shego chuckled lightly at that and stepped back, letting Kim fall to the floor with a thud, "Whoops – sorry Kimmie – guess I slipped."
"Shego!" Kim climbed to her feet, rubbing her backside. "That was rude…and not very fun at all."
"Aw, poor Kimmie," the thief grinned widely, "so is it too late for me to take you – make you mine?"
"Yes!" The heroine rubbed her shoulder with one hand and aimed a light swat at Shego's with the other. "It's way too late," She scowled at her partner.
Shego pouted cutely. "And I was so looking forward to it too; had the collar picked out and everything."
Kim groaned, trying to fight down her mildly excited curiosity at the idea before her arch foe caught the scent. "Shego," she started in an exasperated voice. "I'm going to start cooking some dinner for us because we've got to get going. If you're not showered and ready to go by the time the food's done, I'm going to make you regret it."
The green skinned villainess' eyes lit up and she grinned even more devilishly, "Oh – is that a promise?"
Freshly fed, showered and disguised, Kim and Shego made their way down to the apartment's parking lot in relative silence.
Brushing mocha-skinned fingers through her brilliant white hair, Kim turned her bright blue eyes on her companion, smiling fondly at the sight of her partner.
Shego was all decked out in her "Teri" disguise, her exposed skin covered over by her careful application of her own special blend of makeup and dyes. She'd done something to her bodysuit to cover up each of the bright green patches on her outfit, transforming it to an anonymous, all-black leather jumpsuit. The thief was gently swinging a matching motorcycle helmet in one hand and holding the shoulder straps of her backpack in the other.
"So, what do you think we'll find there?" Kim asked the question softly, reluctant to disturb the comfortable silence that hung between them.
"Who knows?" Teri shrugged, "It could just be a thousand pictures of her and William."
The dark-skinned girl made a face. "That would be just too weird."
"You're telling me," the taller redhead nodded. "So, are you sure you want to do this whole Hardy boys thing?" She held the stairwell open for her partner to pass through. "We could just stay in and relax…" She trailed off suggestively.
Kim laughed, slapping her friend on the shoulder playfully. "My goodness, Teri – It's a wonder you ever got anything done when you were working for…" she searched for the right word, "For the doctor."
"Well, my dear," Teri wrapped an arm around her disguised partner's shoulder and led her towards where her bike was parked. "When you've got a job like mine, a good ninety percent of your time is spent lying low and the other half of that is spent training to better yourself."
Kim smirked, "Only half?"
Teri shrugged, "okay – seventy percent for me." A quiet chuckle escaped her black-painted lips. "I had to keep up with you of course." She let her smile linger for a few moments longer, "but still – a lot of our time is going to be spent relaxing or planning somewhere quiet. Just you wait; we'll have the time of our lives – especially after I show you a couple of my favourite hotspots."
Kim's smirk grew, "sun?"
The thief nodded. "Hope you packed some sunscreen, Princess."
"Oh, doesn't that sound exciting?"
The two super-powered thieves turned cautiously at the interruption to find an elderly woman sitting on a lawn chair just outside the patio of a ground-level apartment. "What I wouldn't give to be that young again."
Kim smiled in a way that made Teri groan inside. Oh God, we're gonna talk to her, aren't we… "Hi there, Mrs Bayly."
"Good evening, Miss." The white-haired older woman laid her book down on her lap. "And who might you be?"
Teri tasted the sudden trace of fear and panic in her partner's mind and tensed, ready to step in if she was needed. The emotion faded quite quickly, however. "Sophia," Kim offered smoothly, "I don't think we've met, but my friend lives in the same building."
The woman's dark brown eyes smiled brightly, comfortingly. "Oh, so you aren't the new couple that's moved in on the fifth floor?"
"No," Sophia shook her head lightly, "We just came down from visiting Kim Possible on the sixth."
"Kim Possible? That's nice," Mrs Bayly smiled up at them from her chair. "She's such a sweet young lady." She glanced up at the apartment balconies above her. "She seems a bit sad, but it's good to know she has friends like you."
Feeling frisky, Teri raised her hands defensively, "Whoa there, Mrs B," she smirked a ghostly smile at the face the other woman made at the nickname. "We're not friends, I just know her through…Sophia." Teri's smile became a little more genuine as the name slid between her lips. Nice...good choice, Kimmie…
Taken aback by the taller redhead's outburst, Mrs Bayly stared up at her searchingly. But instead of reacting in anger like Teri had expected, the woman just canted her head to one side and turned her attention on her dark companion. "Watch out, Sophia. I do believe your lover has designs on your young friend."
Teri choked in shock and stared open-mouthed at the small, old woman.
The grinning elderly woman just smiled all the wider, "close your mouth dear, it's rude to stare like that."
Sophia giggled, "Mrs Bayly, how did-?"
Thin, strong hands waved off the question, "oh, piffle, Sophia – call me Karen. 'Mrs Bayly' makes me feel old." A sharp elbow dug into Teri's side before she could retort. "And don't you worry about your lady friend; I've met worse people in my day."
Teri's jaw finally unlocked. "How did you know?"
Karen laughed deeply from her heart. "I'm old, my dear – not stupid." She paused and frowned disapprovingly as Sophia took a seat on the grass. "You'll stain those lovely white pants." The dark woman shrugged without answering, smiling as though she hadn't a care in the world. "Oh well, I try…But, my dear Sophia," Karen leaned forward in her chair, eyes shining with a mischievous spark, "when you've been around people as long as an old bag like me, you get to learn a few things about them." She looked slowly between Teri and Sophia, "and I'd have to be blind long, long before I'd miss the Love that you two have for each other. It's in the way you stand, the way you speak; it's in everything you do…" Then she pointed an accusing finger squarely at Teri's chest, a fiery inferno burning in her eyes. "And you'd be making the worst mistake of your life if you tossed that away for some fling with any other girl. So smarten up."
Teri glanced down at Sophia, grinning widely. "Yes ma'am." She remained standing as she took in her girlfriend's relaxed pose on the grass. "Say," she turned back to their new acquaintance, "you're taking this rather well, Mrs B." She glanced down at something. "Aren't people like us against your, uh…" she trailed off uncertainly, her gaze shifting downward once more.
Karen followed Teri's furtive, not-so-subtle glances to a small plain wood cross that hung around her neck on a silver chain. "Ah," she smiled slyly up at the redhead, her eyes sparkling. "I see. Is this the part where I tell you that you're both vile, evil creatures who will burn in Hell for all eternity because of who you are sharing your lives with?" At Sophia's panicked, terrified look, the older woman simply laughed again. "Well, you'll be waiting a long time before you hear that from me. I know what love is, dears, and I know that it is never something to abhor or condemn." She looked between them again before continuing, that same smile still planted firmly upon her face. "I see in you two the same thing that I saw in Mr Bayly's eyes all his life. I see love, devotion, loyalty…nothing different from what I felt for my husband. What you feel for each other is the real thing; who am I to condemn it?" Her smile remained and she nodded her head slowly, "whether it's right or not, well – I'll leave that between you and God."
Sophia smiled and looked up at her redheaded partner, "thanks." She turned back to the elderly woman as she climbed to her feet, dusting off her pants, "we really appreciate it."
Karen nodded, beaming up at the two younger women. "Oh, run along you two – enjoy young love while you can." She chuckled lightly, "and leave the elderly to their retirement. And tell your friend Kim Possible that she should come down to my place for tea sometime."
"I'll make sure to do that, Karen." Sophia promised, smiling thinly.
"Yeah, I'll bet," Teri snorted, amused.
"And you," the older woman jabbed her finger at Teri once more. "I think you have all the love you could ever want in this beauty right here, so you stay away from that Kim Possible."
Teri smirked, "yes ma'am." She turned away and started for her bike.
"Goodnight, Karen." Sophia began to follow her girlfriend.
"Run along, Sophia." Karen lifted her book from her lap, muttering her thoughts aloud in a quiet, pensive voice. "What I wouldn't give to be young again…"
"So," Teri swung her leg over the Ghost and held out her black leather back to her companion. "Sophia?"
"Shut up," dark blue eyes narrowed. "I kinda like it."
Teri pulled her helmet on after Sophia had taken the bag off her hands. "That woman was a little creepy."
Sophia glanced back at the woman who had just gotten lost between the pages of her thick book. "Mrs Bayly? She's harmless. She just has an odd understanding of people. I like her."
"Yeah," Teri fired up the bright green machine "You like your elderly, creepy old woman?" She smirked behind her helmet's reflective faceplate. She moved the bike forward:
"You know what, Sophia?"
The snow-haired woman glanced up from where she was crouched by the doorknob. "Yeah?"
"This is getting to be really tiresome." Green eyes bored into the white door with an immolating intensity that just grew with every moment the stubborn barrier refused to move aside for the two thieves. "I mean – I'm all for breaking and entering, but a girl's got to find an easy door every once in a while."
Sophia mimicked her partner's fiery-eyed glare at the door, sighing in frustration. "Yeah, really." She looked back down at the broken key-head lying in her palm. "Betty could have at least warned us that her house key was weak in the middle."
Teri reached out and ran the pad of her gloved thumb over the sharp point of the key fragment that was protruding from the keyhole. "I see you don't know your own strength."
Sophia giggled quietly at her partner's comment. "I doubt that. I'm no stronger than you, you know that." She turned a thin, little smile on the tall redhead beside her. "I've seen you punch through some really strong things before – which, by the way…" she trailed off uncertainly, turning back to stare down at the snapped key head in her hand.
"I wouldn't think too hard about it if I were you." Teri waved the coming question off casually. "I asked myself the same thing almost every night I was working for him and, to tell you the truth, I still don't know why I was holding back with you. I guess," she stared down at her almleti-lined gloves as she delved deeper into her most recent thought. "I guess, on some level…maybe I always knew the truth – that you had nothing to do with my accident. Maybe somehow I always knew that you meant something more to me…or that you could if I ever let myself go with it."
Sophia lifted her gaze up to Teri's blue-eyed face. "Well whatever it was, it's all in the past now so let's deal with the present." She looked back over at the door. "So, are we stuck?"
Teri smirked for a moment, "You're still new at this I see," she clucked her tongue quietly and stepped over to the long, sliding window that stood to one side of the door, displaying a small but functional kitchen. "You just have to know where to look." Pressing her hand against the sideways-sliding windowpane, Teri pushed and the panel slid to one side along its track and opened a pathway into the building. "See?" Without waiting for the surprised super-heroine impersonator to say a word, the older thief pulled herself in through the window.
Sophia followed mutely, finding herself standing in the blandly-painted kitchen. "Okay," she finally managed, "what just happened? How did you do that?"
Smiling pleasantly, Teri moved back over to the window and touched a wide metal clip that hung over the edge of the open windowpane, about halfway up. "These windows can be tricky, because sometimes they might look closed," she slid the panel across the frame, closing the window. "But they're not closed at all." As a demonstration, Teri slid the window open once more without having to unlatch it. "See? For windows like this to actually close securely, the clip has to latch onto the frame here." She closed the window again, this time pushing it hard enough so the clip locked onto the edge of the frame with a clearly audible click.
Sophia nodded, easily absorbing the impromptu lesson. "So…just our luck?"
"You take what you can get in this game, Princess." Teri pulled absently on the wrists of her gloves, making sure they were still completely covering her hands. "Now, let's go see what Betty has on our lovely Global peacekeeping vultures."
Sophia giggled softly at that and ran a hand through her hair, trying out something new. As her fingers ran through her lightning-white tresses, she swiftly slid the long locks through the transition to water and back, gathering up into her hand the white ink she'd embedded within her own body the night before. A second later, her hair was once again as red as it had ever been and Kim slipped the rest of her body through to her water form. While watching the amused smirk on her partner's face, Kim gathered up the rest of the ink in her body, moving it all to recreate the tattoos she'd drawn on her back earlier the previous evening.
Finally, in Sophia's place stood a flesh-and-blood Kimberly Anne Possible.
Teri smiled as she leaned back against the counter. "Have I ever told you how much I love watching you do that?" She reached up to pop out her pale blue contacts with one hand while slipping a small lens case out of her inner pocket with the other. She didn't even flinch at the mild pain as she slipped the coloured lenses free to reveal her deep, dark forest-green eyes.
Kim offered a lopsided, sardonic grin as Shego slipped the case back into her bodysuit. "I haven't heard you say it quite like that," she replied lightly, "but I do know I look cooler than you do when we're taking our disguises off."
"That you do," Shego drew one finger down her cheek gently, nodding her satisfaction when the makeup she'd applied remained firmly in place, protected by the last layer that she'd forgone when she'd left Kim's apartment the first time to offer her proposition to the former heroine. "Now, let's be nosy thieves, huh?"
After a beaming nod from the younger woman, the pair of criminals made their way out of the kitchen to search the rest of the townhouse.
They didn't have to search far.
"Do you think Betty knew we'd be coming?" Shego stared down at the setup on the large dining table.
Kim rolled her eyes and picked a folder off the stack. "She's the one who told us it would be here, Shego."
"Oh yeah," the older woman nodded, confused. "I forgot about that one." She moved around the room and quietly opened the laptop that sat there at the head of the dark wood table. "It's not even turned off. How stupid is she?" Shego hit a key to disrupt the screensaver. "And no password? I mean, come on – she used to be the leader of Global Justice? Anyone could come in here and just-."
"Would you quit complaining?" Kim slid into the chair that faced the laptop. "It saves us time." Reaching into her pocket she pulled out the pale blue Kimmunicator she'd been given by the former GJ leader and opened a compartment in the back, revealing a small, well-organized collection of wires. "Well, I'll give Wade points for simplicity." She pulled out the appropriate wires and started hooking her Scorpio Kimmunicator up to Dr Director's laptop.
"Uh, Kimmie?" Shego stepped aside to give the redhead more access to the computer. "Do you know what you're doing?"
Kim made an affirmative noise without pausing her work. "At least," she leaned back, "I'm pretty sure. Wade left a short instructional video in his tutorial for the Centurion suit." She turned to her partner in crime. "In any case, Wade's gadgets have always been ferociously user-friendly, so we'll see how it works when it loads up."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Shego turned away quickly. "While you set yourself up, I'm going to snoop around a little more." She started to walk out of the room.
"Don't steal anything," Kim quipped.
A quiet alarmingly pleasant chuckle was the thief's only response.
"Now," Kim powered up the Scorpio device. "Let's see what Global Justice has been up to."
By the time Shego returned to the dining table, a small book open in one hand, Kim had set Wade's premier hacking program on Global Justice's mainframe, and it was two thirds finished breaking through.
"Wow, you're still not in?" Shego dropped herself into a chair beside Kim. "Nerdlinger's slipping."
Kim glared mildly at her partner. "Wade," she corrected, "pretty much built GJ's new system, so I trust anything he says can break in."
"Well, couldn't he have programmed it to break in faster?"
"My," Kim smirked over at Shego, "Aren't we just crazy impatient? I thought thieves needed to have at least a little patience; what happened to yours?"
"This annoying, painfully gorgeous teen heroine trained it out of me a few years back." Shego breathed a heavily dramatic sigh. "She never made me wait for a fight." A strangely peaceful aura settled on the super-thief as she levelled her eyes calmly on Kim.
"Oh really?" Kim sat back, crossing her legs as she waited for Scorpio to sneak its way through GJ's labyrinthine firewalls. "Did this heroine do anything else for you?" She smiled at Shego, carefully letting a small measure of her emotions leak out for the empath to sense.
Shego inhaled deeply, taking in the irresistible bouquet. "She kept me alive," her eyes closed lightly, "forced me to fight to earn every moment of my freedom." She grinned at the memories, no longer ashamed at the pleasure she'd derived from every dance she'd shared with the girl beside her. "And I wasted a long time accusing her of something she didn't do," a sad look overcame her pale features.
"Hey," Kim didn't let her smile fall as she rested a hand on her partner's shoulder. "I'm sure she forgives you – it wasn't your fault you were tricked into hating her."
"That's true enough, I suppose." Shego shrugged and the motion seemed to draw her attention down to the book in her hand. "Hey," she set it on the table in front of Kim. "Check this out, Pumpkin."
Kim looked over to see that Shego had found a thin photo album with only a few dozen of the pages filled with photos. "Where'd you find this?"
Shego motioned to the ceiling, "upstairs. I found it on Betty's bedside table. Pretty sparse decorations in there if you ask me… It was open to this page," she reached out and flipped the book towards the front before Kim's wide eyes.
Wordlessly, the redhead took the album from her partner's gloved hands and looked over the front page with wide, searching eyes. It was a group picture:
Kim and Ron were standing front and centre with Dr Director on Kim's left and then Will Du beside her. After that were a few more men and women in the standard issue blue GJ jumpsuits and finally Dr James Possible – Kim's dad. On Ron's left shoulder, between his and Kim's heads, stood a waving Rufus with the short stocky Wade standing on the boys other side. Farther along the line stood Ron's parents with a proudly beaming Dr Anna Possible, Kim's Mom. Just behind Kim and between her and Dr Director there was a tall, statuesque blonde woman with an even taller, stone-faced man on her right and three large, barrel-chested men in bright blue and yellow uniforms on her left. Beside Oliver, dwarfed by the robotic boyfriend 's sheer size stood a short, nervous and awkward looking moustached man with large, round glasses and a tan explorer's hat held tightly between his hands at about chest height.
Farther along after Professor Akari – the bugman – stood another man in a brown suit and bowtie and a similar pair of thick, round glasses and a short white beard and moustache. Farther along on the other side of the striking blonde stood another trio of more casually dressed men, Professors Ramesh, Chen, and Doctor Freeman. And finally, lined up at the very front of the picture were Jim and Tim possible, a short, excited, blue-eyed brunette girl, and a cautious, uncomfortable-looking girl with short blonde hair and narrowed, stoic eyes.
After a few minutes, Shego nudged her on the shoulder to get her attention. "So, who are they all?"
Kim handed the book back and turned once more to the laptop on the table. "It was a picture we took the day I retired. They threw this huge party at our house without telling me until I got home from school." A slow, wistful smile spread across the redhead's face as she thought back through the years. "My Mom and Dr Director got together and invited everyone they could think of who I might like to be there – all these people from past missions and good friends I'd kept in touch with. I think it was Dad who suggested the group picture, though I think most everyone had left by then. I didn't know Dr Director got a copy." She sighed at the slow progress of Wade's Scorpio system but turned back to start pointing around the photograph. "There's Doctor Vivian Porter – she's a robotics genius who built Oliver as well as an AI mars Lander. And these two went to school with my Dad and Drakken. Oh – and here's Team Impossible," she circled a group with her finger. "They tried to force me to retire because they were losing money to me."
Shego raised an eyebrow, "but you didn't charge."
"I know," Kim tapped Dash Demahn on his face, "but they wouldn't listen – they said it had something to do with cutting into profit. Wade set them straight though," she smiled, "I think they've been a little scared of him ever since."
The tall thief let out a short laugh, "Yeah, I'll bet. That boy has some slick skills, despite his isolationist syndrome."
"He doesn't have any syndrome, Shego." Kim shook her head at her partner's remark and checked once more on Scorpio's progress. 95 percent. "We're almost in."
"Cool," was all Shego said as she continued studying the photo album in her hands. "You know," she flipped slowly through a few pages, "while we were having lunch with Betty and Howdy Doody, I got to thinking about your boy genius and his deal with GJ."
"You have an idea," Kim turned with a smile just as the Scorpio software broke through the last of Global Justice's defences. "I'll bet it doesn't beat mine, though."
"What – the 'kidnap famous people' play? Please," Shego waved one gloved hand dismissively, "I was thinking about looking up any freelancers that might have escaped the big crunch. We could use some helpful and specialized skills."
"Hm," Kim rubbed her chin thoughtfully, "I was under the impression that you were a one-woman-army kind of girl."
A smirk was the taller woman's response. "Stealing from a worldwide organization is one thing, Kimmie; declaring war on them is something else entirely. If we want to win this, we're going to have to be smart about it, and no way are we going to take down Global or Pisces on our own – not without some major league help." She waved one hand vaguely, her smirk developing an evil gleam. "Of course, I'll want to keep the best parts for us – you and me, but we can play nice with the other kids, can't we?"
"I know I can," Kim turned back to the computer, "but can you?" She didn't see the indignant, shocked expression that split Shego's face, but she felt the rush of emotions and thoughts flow over her like a wave, breaking harmlessly against the shore of her mind. "Alright. We're in, what do we want to look at?"
"How about," Shego leaned over Kim's shoulder, "I have an idea: why don't I get my revenge for that line you just used?"
Kim grinned and digging back through her memory to find something – anything – to use against her former arch-foe. "Oh, I don't think you'll hurt me – not when I can do this."
Shego instinctively closed her eyes tightly and turned away, thinking back to one of the times she'd snuck into Bueno Nacho to do a little recon on Kim Possible and the wonder dork. That one time had certainly been an experience for her. She'd had the misfortune of being almost directly in Kim's line of sight, much to the cheerleader's ignorance.
"Teri Nordham" had just taken her seat with a hablamos salad when she overheard the Do-gooder Duo locked in a slightly heated discussion – something to do with a family dinner. Kim wanted an excuse to not go but Ron wouldn't do it; he was all for the "family unity" and community that Teri had discarded so many years ago. It was something she'd stopped believing in ever since…
"Oh, Ron – please?" Teri's eyes widened beneath the raised hood of her black sweater as she watched the teen heroine's face swiftly and smoothly transform into something more closely resembling a heartbroken, starving and abused pet than a human girl. Her bright emerald eyes grew wide and liquid, as though the slightest ill word or false step would set off a watery meltdown of tears, and the girl's lower lip jutted out sadly, pleadingly, her cheeks puffing out a little bit as slight, spasmodic tremors quivered through the thin strip of flesh. And, just to add to the effect, Kim's head tilted a little to the right, making the expression irresistibly cute and painfully convincing at the same time.
Sitting directly in the line of fire, Ron was clearly blinded by the raw power of the young Possible's secret weapon. "Oh – Gah!" He threw one arm up over his face while the other waved frantically over the table at his best friend. "My eyes! Alright – I'll do it, Kim. Just p-put that away!"
Within the span of a single heartbeat, Kim's puppy dog pout had disappeared and been completely wiped from existence, replaced with a widely grinning, redheaded heroine.
But Teri had seen the whole thing.
Even seated halfway across the restaurant, disguised from recognition, Shego hadn't been completely spared from the effect of Kim's powers of persuasion.
She could never for the life of her explain why it had happened, but Shego had actually found herself standing at the bottom of the driveway at the Possible home without really remembering how she got there. Severely shaken by the power behind that infernal pout, Shego had fled the scene and returned to Drakken's lair before she was caught.
So, here she was, knowing there was only one defence against such a weapon. Shego screwed her eyes shut and averted her face from her partner's overpowering gaze. "Sorry, Pumpkin, but your secret weapon's not going to work on me."
There was a quiet laugh from where the redhead had been sitting only moment's ago. "And who said the pout was the only thing I could do?"
Against her better judgement – and driven almost entirely by a curiosity she'd rarely before felt, Shego cracked one eye open to come face to face with…Kim Possible.
Entirely puppy dog pout-less.
"What the…?" Shego opened both her eyes to take in the completely and totally harmless expression. Striking though she was, the slight upward curve of Kim's lips was in no way compelling the thief to follow her girlfriend unquestioningly like a lemming. But Shego couldn't deny that there was a spark of mischief glimmering in those deep pools of emerald. "What are you up to?"
That's when she felt it.
It started as a change in the air that Shego had at first attributed to the townhouse's air conditioner. There was a slight sweetness in the air, a light floral scent that she could almost taste. Shego felt her heart flutter and jump a few times in her chest as the fragrance enveloped her. Almost like…
Shego's dark eyes widened and she locked her eyes on Kim's. "You wouldn't."
Kim smiled innocently, "Aw, but Shego – it's your favourite."
Shego stood and backed up a pace; as if that will help me. "No, Pumpkin – please. That's playing dirty."
"Oh, well – I guess that just means I've learned to be a villain." The redhead winked flirtatiously and grinned wildly. "Breathe deep, Shego…" Kim's eyes were laughing with pleasure and excitement as she dropped the defensive walls around her mind so fast it was as though they'd never been there in the first place.
Shego was prepared for the onslaught of her partner's scent-flavours, but the sheer scale and depth of the excitement slamming into and engulfing her like a crashing wave was beyond description. "Oh…" Shego's eyes closed involuntarily and she basked in the warm, sweet fragrance of lilies and dark chocolate even as she felt her mind being swept away in the current. "Mm," she felt her mind threatening to shut down from the assault on her senses as it was drowned in the myriad layers of Kim's projected emotions. She shivered as goosebumps broke out all along her arms and her legs trembled spasmodically as her knees became weak under the endless wave of irresistible emotion. "You do know," she managed to whisper through lightly panting breaths. "You know I'll get you back for this."
Kim's grin began to fade. "I wouldn't have it any other way."
The villainess released a relieved sigh as she felt the flow ease and the walls of Kim's mind fell back into place, locking away all those wonderfully delicious emotions behind a secure fortress. "So, what were we talking about?"
Kim laughed quietly, nervously. "We were just about to dig through GJ's database?"
Shego smirked. "Okay, fine – I'll let you off the hook, this time." She took a mild amount of pleasure from the crestfallen look on the younger redhead's face. "But I'll get you next time."
Kim turned to the laptop without replying, moving the mouse around the screen uncertainly, unsure exactly what it was she was looking for. "Okay, let's see what we have here – there's a bunch of submenus…Administration, Finances, World Events…" Her brilliant emerald eyes flitted across the laptop's screen. "And isn't this just the most boring menu in the world?"
There was an entire section for missions and mission-related business, personnel – current and prospective, files on various people and organisations, an R&D department…and a quietly hidden Pisces link at the bottom of the list. "Okay – we're in." Shego looked down at her partner in the chair. "Now what?"
Kim took her hands away from the keyboard. "I've got nothing – you?"
"Sure – shove over." Shego nudged the redhead in the shoulder with the back of one hand. "I've got an idea."
"Really?" Kim stood and moved to one side, sliding into the next chair over. "What have you got?"
Shego smirked and slid the mouse cursor over the Missions link. "Why don't we check up on Stoppable and the Brat – see how the powers that be took their mission last night – this morning?"
Kim's eyebrows crinkled in confusion. "You think they'd be filed already?"
Shego sat back and started scrolling down the list of names that appeared. "These people are businessmen, Pumpkin. They're all about getting paperwork done fast. I'd be surprised if our little escapade at Redpath didn't make it into the files yet." She whistled as the list kept on going. "Wow, they're a busy bunch over at GJ, aren't they?"
"Of course," Kim replied waving one hand flippantly, "there's all that crime filling the streets." She smirked, "they've got to protect and serve and all that."
The taller woman couldn't help the lopsided grin that split her face. "Now, there's something else we can do while we're here. We should check out their crime files and see how much is real and how much is organized by Pisces."
Kim leaned back in her chair, smiling up at the ceiling. "I have the smartest girlfriend in the world."
"Damn right," the older thief made an appreciative noise, "and don't you forget it." She stopped scrolling through the list. "Finally – 'Stoppable and Brat'."
Kim looked over at the screen. "It says 'King', Shego."
"Oh, does it?" Shego studied the screen a second time, "so it does – fancy that." She spoke with an astonished tone. "I don't know why I didn't see it before…"
Kim laughed and rolled her eyes. "Why do you call her that anyway?"
Shego scoffed, "she's the typical American Princess."
A knowing smile lit up the redhead's eyes, creasing her cheeks as she gazed over at her partner. "Are you sure it doesn't have something to do with whatever it was she did to your house?"
The taller woman groaned, "Ah – she's just so infuriating!" She stopped scanning through Global Justice's database. "I was just relaxing in the sun in my Bermuda home when little miss all-that blew through my door with that overdone power-suit of hers and just decided then and there that she could take me down without backup." She chucked humourlessly, "I took her down a few pegs, but my house got demolished in the process."
Kim rested one hand on Shego's shoulder, her smile growing even more. "I'm sure she wasn't the only one who tore apart your house."
Shego sighed, considerably less agitated. "If she hadn't shown up all glowing with arrogance and attitude, my house's safety would never have been in question, so it's still her fault in my book."
"Oh," Kim nodded sagely, "I never said she was completely innocent." She stepped closer to her partner, leaning her head on the taller woman's shoulder. "So, what have we got? What did Global Justice have to say about us?"
Shego scanned the page. "'Mission profile: confirmed breaking and entering. Location: Redpath Museum. Montreal, Canada. Suspect involvement of villain Shego – threat level extreme.' Well, it's nice to be appreciated." She read some more as she felt Kim's breath in her ear. "Let me see…'the Centurion Power armour issued to agent King was activated at 01:37 hours GMT -05:00. Deactivated at 01:41.' Way to go, Kimmie; you put her down in record time."
"Thank you," Kim bowed her head humbly, "You're too kind."
Shego smirked back over her shoulder before turning back to the laptop. "What else is there? Oh, here we are – the debrief." Rolling her eyes at her partner's curious expression, she explained patiently, "the meeting after the mission."
"Ah," Kim nodded slowly, "so what have they got to say?"
"I'm getting to that," Shego scanned through the file. "Here we are, 'In attendance: Agents Tara King and Ronald Stoppable, Director Philippe Sincoli, Assistant Director Daniel Murphy, Director of Personnel Douglas R. Cartil, and Doctor Alan Freidman.' A psychologist?" Shego wrinkled her nose at that, "That's just weird."
"Well, what does it say?"
"I'm getting to that," Shego waved off her partner's concern. "Alright, let's see…'Debrief: Psychological profile – Ronald Stoppable.' Great, want to read up on your bosom buddy's head?"
Kim shrugged. "Sure, it might tell us how well Tara and Ron are covering what they know."
Shego scoffed and moved on down the list. "Stoppable knows Jack. He was unconscious before you and Brat got into your little tiff." Shego grinned, "Which by the way, was a nice display – very graceful." She chuckled as she felt the heat of Kim's blush on her exposed neck as well as smell the sun-warmed cedar of her pleasure at the open compliment. "Anyway, what if Stoppable did know about it all?" The older woman ran a hand through her altogether-too-short cherry-red hair as she used her other to open up the file marked: "Debrief: Psychological profile – Tara King". "I mean, sure I don't put much faith in his skills, but Stoppable's got plenty of heart. I can see that, so I know that he would never stand by and let GJ do what they're doing."
Kim frowned and closed her eyes, her anger and disgust batting gently at the edges of the empath's senses. "He would if he was being blackmailed."
Shego started, her eyes widening. "No kidding?" Well, doy – she almost slapped herself. That's the kind of weakness they would exploit, "Who've they got on speed dial if Monkey-boy steps out of line?" A hero's weakness.
"Tara," Kim replied, pulling over a chair to rest her legs. "They'll arrest Tara for something she hasn't even done." She sat with her head still leaning on her partner's shoulder. "Wade told me a little about it."
"He's just connected to everything isn't he?" Shego shook her head, amazed at the young genius' abilities. "But," she turned away from the computer, "Tara, huh? Why threaten her to get Stoppable to knuckle under – why not his family?"
Kim shrugged and Shego felt a burst of impulsive longing rush through the redhead's mind only seconds before a pair of arms slid around the middle of her body from behind and her chair shifted just a little as her partner squeezed herself in between her and the chair back. She smirked back over her shoulder at the emotionally fragrant young woman behind her, "enjoying yourself?"
Kim nodded, her chin settling back into the crook of the super-thief's neck. "Very much so, do you mind?"
Shego laughed quietly, reaching up to run her gloved fingers through Kim's fiery red tresses, "never in a million years, Princess." She sobered a little, "but how about this Stoppable thing – why would it work to threaten the brat with a little jail time?"
Kim took a moment think about it before speaking in a low voice, clearly more interested in the feel of having her arms around her partner's abdomen. "Hm, well for one thing, it's probably something a little more severe than 'a little' jail time. I'll bet GJ's got a pretty serious case made up for her if they ever need to use it." She breathed in quietly, inhaling the scent of leather and Shego's lily shampoo. "And I guess it does kind of make sense to target the loved one that's easiest to get at, rather than the family that's outside their area of control."
"'Loved one'?" Shego turned a curious eye on the suddenly quite cuddly heroine on her shoulder. "What do you mean…" her eyes widened and then she burst out laughing a bare instant later, "what? Stoppable and the Brat? That's hilarious!"
"What's so funny?" Kim's brow wrinkled in confusion.
"It's just," Shego paused in her guffawing, "just so unlikely, like you and-."
"You?" Kim raised her eyebrows as she cut into Shego's words.
Shego thought about it, "yeah okay, maybe not so unlikely but still…I don't really see those two working as a couple."
"Well," Kim looked back at the computer. "You don't know her like he and I do; she's really a sweet girl. And, speaking of…" she motioned to the monitor. "Do you want to be nosy or not?"
The villainess' smile remained, "gee – you'd think with the way you're sitting, you'd want to do something soft and mushy."
Kim clucked her tongue quietly, "Shego, say it with me: 'romantic'." She grinned at her partner's non-committal grunt. "Besides, this is plenty romantic enough for us," she tightened her arms around her lover's waist, "you, me, zero space between us…" she trailed off playfully, "highly classified files…"
Shego moved her own hands back to the computer, "you sweet talker, you."
((( Reading )))
Date: June 19 2005. 0240 hours.
Psychological evaluation – Agent D110, Tara King.
Alan Freidman, PhD.
I've just learned the most intriguing thing. Shego, designated as a first priority, extreme threat super-villain has finally resurfaced. Not only that, but she seems to have picked up a partner as well. Agent King says she wasn't able to get a clear view of subject Shego-2's face, but they were most definitely female, as evidenced by Agent King's recognition of the second criminal's vocal mannerisms. Agent King describes a young woman with long black hair, a tanned complexion and tight, revealing clothes. This suggests an outgoing personality – unashamed, confident, and perhaps even fearless. King has also mentioned a tattoo on Shego-2's upper left chest – a black S. This would appear to suggest that Shego's partner may in fact be more of an apprentice or student. Could she even be a successor in-training? Regardless, this tattoo also seems to indicate a level of attachment that is significant – certainly far more complex than a simple student and teacher relationship.
In addition, this apprentice's tattoo seems to provide evidence that she is – again – unashamed, confident… She does not care if anyone knows of her affiliation with Shego, criminal or otherwise. It is possible she doesn't understand the notion of disguising her criminal identity when she walks among everyday people or – once again – does not care what others may think of her. Whether this is due to a belief that Shego will protect her, should the need arise, or a confidence in her own abilities is unclear although, I suspect it is more likely to be the latter. It is inevitable that any apprentice Shego takes on would quickly develop a personality and skill set to emulate her own, and Shego's own personality is nothing short of self-assured, confident, and powerful.
Agent Stoppable's insight into this apprentice was of limited value, considering he was unconscious for the duration of her and King's altercation. He did mention that the apprentice was wearing a black mask across her eyes, like a strip of cloth. Stoppable was also able to confirm the description made by Agent King – all except the hair colour. Stoppable confirmed the existence of the tattoo as well as the skin tone and wardrobe, but he described the apprentice's hair as a bright shade of red, "like fire". Stoppable also described a sense of familiarity with the apprentice, but could not elaborate any further on the subject. When questioned on the mask and stood by her original description of black hair. If Stoppable's description of the mask is indeed an accurate one, it would indicate that the apprentice shares a sense of playfulness with Shego as well as a dramatic flair that is more practical than many of the world's past villains. It is, however, impossible to determine the accuracy of agent Stoppable's description given the inaccuracy of his testimonies in the past.
Now, as for Agent King, I believe I can understand her more easily. She was perspiring lightly and displaying textbook signs of nervousness throughout the entire debriefing. Now, I cannot definitively conclude whether this was a first-time occurrence for King, considering I have only been with Global Justice for 2 years, but I have been to 249 briefings, debriefings, and general meetings where she has been in attendance. From that, I can state for the record that I have never before seen Tara King display this kind of textbook anxiety or hypertension. For any further conclusions to that effect, consult the reports from my brother and predecessor in this station, Doctor Gordon Freidman.
Any explanation for Agent King's abnormal behaviour is pure conjecture, but I feel myself compelled to at least make an attempt to answer the question of what could cause this behaviour. The first and foremost cause that comes to mind is, of course, that Agent King is lying. The further cause of her lying or her motivation for doing so remain a mystery, but if given the right equipment and sufficient uninterrupted time with King I believe I can draw the answers out of the ether. Unfortunately, I am told administering polygraph tests to our own employees can be…problematic at best – from a legal standpoint, that is. On the other hand, why would Agent King lie to us about the apprentice of Shego? She is clearly a criminal, as evidenced by her extremely effective assault of a Global Justice Operative.
Regardless, perhaps King is simply suffering from the after-effects of this most recent mission. I must point out that I have never attended a debriefing this soon after the actual mission was carried out. Besides, if I recall accurately, the last time King encountered Shego, a year before my time, her behaviour at the debriefing was – according to Dr G. Freidman's report – erratic to say the least. Depending upon how far the apprentice's training has progressed, it is entirely possible that she has become just as proficient as the widely known super-villain. Whether or not she possesses the same sense of morality with regard to killing remains to be seen.
Given the above assessment of Agent King's mental state after this most recent mission, it is my professional opinion that she is of sound mind and able to serve on the next mission assigned to her with all the competence and skill that has become her trademark in her experience with Global Justice. If her next mission – or any future missions – should involve contact with Shego or her apprentice, however, it is presently my suggestion that Agent King be allowed two or three days of paid leave immediately following the mission and its debriefing. Pending the routine post-mission fitness evaluation, I pronounce Agent Tara King ready and fit to return to duty.
Note: Schedule an optical evaluation for both Agents Stoppable and King at the earliest opportunity.
Shego sat back against the warm body behind her. "This guy's good."
"Yeah he is," Kim nodded, her chin bumping against her companion's shoulder. "It's just too bad Tara's a good liar."
"And your boy Stoppable is unreliable enough to be doubted," Shego's thin smile was evident in her voice. "Nice job, Brat….she bought us some time."
"I guess," the redhead shrugged. "The longer it takes them to realize it's me, the better it is for both of us."
Shego glanced over her shoulder, curious about the sharp tang of disappointment in the air. "You don't sound very pleased with that."
"Well," Kim leaned away from Shego, resting herself against the chair's back and gazing up at the ceiling calmly, "I just – there's a part of me that wants them to know it was me." She sighed softly, "but you're right. It's better if we can keep it quiet until we want them to know – it keeps them guessing."
"That's the wise thing to do, Pumpkin," Shego turned back to the laptop, which was still showing the psychologist's report. "On the other hand, it would be more of a challenge if everyone knew you were my 'apprentice'. What do you say?"
Kim grinned, "I say we do this the smart way. We so can't afford to let my pride make this difficult."
The super-powered thief nodded, smiling, "Good answer." She then typed a couple commands into the laptop. "Now," she glanced back at Kim. "Where should we look next?"
Both Villain and Heroine started as a faint sound caught their attention, sitting up straighter and more alert.
Shego stood from the chair, careful to not topple her partner from her perch as she walked into the kitchen to study the view of the parking that was visible from the window. "Police car incoming, Kimmie – I think we had better pull a David Copperfield."
"You think?" Kim stood and joined her partner at the window. "They can't be coming here."
No sooner had she spoken then a single police cruiser pulled into the parking lot outside the townhouse, its lights flashing brightly but suddenly silent.
Shego turned a grim smile on Kim, "you were saying?" She whirled and dashed out of the kitchen. "I thought you said they couldn't trace this Scorpion doodad." She waved her hand at the blue Kimmunicator on the table. "So much for techno-master's skills."
Kim sighed as she followed after her partner, "Shego, come on." She reached over to press the power button on the laptop, causing a hard stop. "Do you really think Global Justice would trust this to one police car if they knew they were being hacked?" She pulled the wires from the laptop and coiled them back into the Scorpio device's casing, snapping it closed and sliding it into her pocket. "A neighbour probably saw us climb in through the window and called it in." Overturning the laptop, she whipped out a Swiss army knife and started unscrewing something off the bottom. "Now, was there anything upstairs that could link Dr Director to Scorpio or even reveal the thing's existence?"
"No," Shego replied promptly, "just the photo album. And what are you doing?"
"I'm taking Dr Director's hard drive." Kim removed the last screw and pulled out the wide, flat component. "We don't have time to search through it and we might need any information she's managed to save on it." She slipped the hard drive into the smaller pocket of Shego's bag. "Plus, I don't think it would be good for it to fall into the hands of the police out there."
"Well, you have a point there," Shego handed the photo album to Kim and then held up a few folders from the stack on the other end of the table. "What about these – do we have any room for them?"
Kim dropped the album into the larger pocket and zipped the bag closed. "Sorry Shego. Not unless you want them rolled up, folded, or crushed. We'll just have to destroy them and hope that's all on the hard drive." Reaching out one hand, Kim rested her fingers lightly on the laptop for only a moment before it turned to water under her touch, collapsing to the table with a quiet rush of splashing.
Shego smirked at the display before turning to the papers in her hand. "Screw that," she opened the top folder and reached up with on hand to slid the zipper of her body suit from throat to navel. "There's no way in Hell we're going to dig through that whole thing for a few files. 'Financial records – 2004-05'. I'll keep that one," She set the folder down on a far corner of the table, well outside the slowly spreading puddle and beyond Kim's reach. "Hm, 'Agent files – Stoppable and King' – all yours." She tossed the file unceremoniously into Kim's puddle. "Mine…mine, yours, mine, yours…yours, yours, mine…"
As Shego rapidly read through and sorted the stack of folders, Kim turned away from the sight of all that skin revealed by the open zipper, swiftly transforming her blushing self to her basic water state. Once that was accomplished, it was simple for her to shift the colouring of her tattoos around and revert to flesh and bone as Sophia. "Are you almost finished?" She looked over her shoulder at the abrupt lack of engine noise outside, "we kind of have to get out of here."
Taking the much reduced stack of folders in one hand, Shego pulled her bodysuit open to reveal nothing but pale green skin and a solid black sports bra. "Yeah, yeah. Give me a second." She shoved the files around to sit neatly between her bare back and the leather of her suit, zipping the garment closed with a quick, practised movement. "Enjoy your free peek?" The villainess grinned deviously.
Deciding to ignore the jab at her modesty, Sophia held out one hand over the haphazard pile of folders and papers that Shego had discarded. "Are these garbage?" At Shego's quick nod, the papers vanished into a splashing pool of water. "Alright, we're out of here."
Shego smiled again, "yes, ma'am." She grabbed her helmet and headed for the front door. "Let's do this." She reached up to pull her alloy-lined gloves off.
Sophia's hand on her shoulder stilled her to inaction, "hold on, Shego – there are only two officers." She tilted her head to one side, her eyes closed lightly. "They don't know the bike's yours so they haven't reported its description or plate number yet." She looked over at Shego, her eyes now glowing a blinding white from between her closed eyelids. "We don't need to blow our cover yet."
Shego felt something happening to the air around them. Kimmie, what are you up to? "I am not walking out that door to get arrested, Pumpkin."
Sophia grinned as a pale white mist seemed to form around the two of them. "I never said we would give up, Shego. I'm just saying," she opened her shining eyes and placed her hand over Shego's. "You don't need to blow the door down with your Plasma; use your foot maybe?"
A laugh escaped Shego's lips as she felt the temperature drop a few degrees and the mist grow denser by the second. "Well, why didn't you say so?"
There was a sudden pounding on the front door. "Police! Come out or we're coming in!"
Oh, what the Hell… Shego smirked and raised her voice. "Do you boys have a warrant?"
It took a moment for the man on the other side to come up with a reply. "Are you the homeowner?"
Shego's smile only widened as she looked back and watched Sophia work her magic. "No."
"Um, do you know the homeowner?"
Shego started walking towards the door with a slow, predatory gait, "Not really."
The officer hesitated, clearly sensing something was off. "Uh, is the homeowner there?"
Shego glanced back again as Sophia stepped up behind her, her eyes blazing like lightning. "I can't say that she is."
There was another pause. "Did you enter the home by the window?"
Shego laughed as she felt a wind kick up, blowing Sophia's long snowy locks around her dark face. "I think I do remember climbing in through the window, Officer."
"Then you're under arrest for breaking and entering. Come out with your hands on your head!" Officer no-brain pounded on the door again even as the growing wind rattled a few loose objects in the front hall.
'Ready Princess?' Shego felt the taste of mischief waft across her senses and a blast of cold, swirling air whip all around her at a frightening speed. "Whatever you say, Officer." She slid her helmet onto her head and reared back with one leg. 'Ready or not,' she projected.
'Here we come,' Sophia finished for her, drawing back her hands and gathering all the winds she'd summoned together into a tight, compact package. Then, she turned and shared a blazing-eyed grin with Shego:
'Let's rock, Shego.'
They struck as one.
"Yeah – What?" The two-metre tall police officer paused as he was about to pound on the door for what seemed like the thousandth time. "What is it, Kendris?"
Whoa, Police Sergeant Henry Kendris raised his eyebrows curiously. Whatever the two thieves inside had said to the huge former College linebacker had clearly irked the normally easy-going man beyond the edge of his tolerance if he was snapping so easily. "Whoa, ease up Barnes, I was just gonna ask if you think the bike is theirs?" Kendris brought a hand up to the back of his neck as he felt a few of the hairs suddenly begin to stand up on end. What…?
Before Officer Traci Barnes could reply, there was a deafening crash from inside the townhouse, like a thunderclap – and then the door exploded out into a dozen or more fragments with a far less jarring sound. Kendris caught the briefest glimpse of the two perpetrators they were after before everything went to Hell in a hand-basket.
Barnes was instantly obscured from view in a cloud of debris and blinding misty smoke. "What – Uf!" There was a sharp thump, a groan, and then the sound of a body flopping to the pavement of the front porch as Kendris drew his sidearm.
"Stop!" He ordered, holding his pistol in both hands and pointed at the ground, ready to rise given an appropriate target, "Hands on your head – now!"
"I got the first one," a muffled voice came from within the dense white cloud of fog. "You get to take the second, 'Phia!"
A low, feminine-sounding chuckle sounded from inside the cloud and Kendris felt a sharp jet of wind come flying straight at him, whipping his pistol from his hands as though his grip were nothing. "What was that?"
"Your worst nightmare," Kendris was shocked to see the mist rush out at him to envelope the entire parking lot and beyond, obscuring his vision almost completely and leaving him with only the half-metre or so around him that he could see. "Get to the bike, 'Ree."
"I'm way ahead of you," the bike Kendris had been standing beside suddenly roared to life.
"Or you'll what?" A figure appeared in front of him, their face completely distorted and hidden by the all-encompassing mist. "You don't have your precious gun, and you'll have a time trying to take me down in hand-to-hand. I've taken on the best there is."
"Come on!" The voice came from the other thief, the muffled one – Ree? "We've got to go!"
"Excuse me Officer, but it seems I don't have time to play." The fog-enshrouded figure vaulted over Kendris, hands bracing against his shoulders to land somewhere behind him. There was a sudden roar, a brief squeal of tires and then the motorcycle was gone.
Seconds later, so was the fog, pulling back and sweeping out of the parking lot like a comet's tail after the roaring machine.
Without hesitating, Kendris dashed over to where Barnes was just climbing up to his feet. "Barnes! Are you all right?" What just happened?
"Yeah," the giant of a man wiped the sleeve of his uniform across his face, smearing his bloody nose all across it. "Think we'll need backup, though." The two of them stared after the bike as it sped off down the street. Kendris nodded his agreement:
'Hey – Kimmie?'
'Yeah?' Sophia tightened her grip around Shego's waist as they swung through a tight turn.
'I can't see where we're going – think you can drop your fog?'
'Sure thing,' Sophia reached back and searched around with one hand for the bike's licence plate. 'Mind if I liquefy your licence plate first?'
'Make it quick,' Sophia could sense a small amount of anxiety through their link. 'I think our luck's about to run out with the whole no-other-cars thing.'
'Right.' Shego's plate turned to water in Sophia's hand as she released her control over the fog through which they'd been riding.
Freed from her control, the small, tightly-packed mist abruptly blew off to the left with the wind, allowing the bright green Ghost to shoot out like a bullet from a rifle, swerving to the right instantly to avoid the line of cars stopped at the red light.
'Think we can make it through?' Shego eyed the sparse cross-traffic.
'How good are your reflexes?' Sophia pulled herself in even tighter against her partner. 'I trust you, Shego.'
'Dammit,' Shego geared down and came to a stop with her front wheel on the line. 'We'll have cops on us soon enough. We don't need to cause any accidents quite yet.'
'Prudent,' Sophia commented. Sensing her partner's anxiousness, she grinned inside her helmet and laughed quietly. 'You'll get your excitement soon enough, Shego – I promise.'
A slight tremor ran through the shoulder under Sophia's helmet as Shego shared her amusement. 'I'd like a little excitement, but can you contain yours a little?'
Sophia grinned even wider, 'What's the matter, Ree – afraid to live a little?' She laughed too, letting a few drops of her growing excitement slip past her mental barrier before locking it down again. 'Alright, I'll keep it down, but you're in for the full experience once we're somewhere safe.'
Shego revved the motorcycle's mutated engine as sirens started to register at the edges of their hearing. '"Ree"?' She seemed amused.
Sophia snorted, 'You got to call me "Phia".'
'I guess you have a point there.' Shego shot off the line as soon as the light turned green, followed light years behind by all the other cars that had been waiting there. A few more seconds back came a single police cruiser, its lights flashing and siren wailing impotently. 'Twenty bucks says it's the same pair of cop jocks that that barged in on our "us" time.'
Sophia grinned and reached out with her mind to the two officers in the screaming cruiser behind them. 'No bet – you'd win anyways.' She dipped a little deeper into the two minds. 'The big guy you took out is really pissed off, too.'
'Yeah, I'll bet.' Shego leaned into a lane change that almost scraped the paint off the bumper of the black pickup on their left. 'I'm actually surprised that he's awake to be so pissed. We hit him pretty hard.'
'Well, kudos to him for staying conscious; he'll probably have a monster headache pretty soon, though.' Shego turned to shoot down a street that intersected the boulevard. 'You are poetry in motion, Shego – never let it be said that you aren't.'
'Flatterer,' the thief waved casually at a second police cruiser that came roaring down from the opposing lane, swerving around to try to cut her off. 'Nice try, boys!' She followed the outside curve of the cruiser's turn, reaching out to tap her fingers against the passenger window as they zipped by. 'But you'll need to be a little faster than that to catch my Ghost!'
'Okay,' Sophia laughed at her partner's antics. 'We've got two cars on our tail now,' the second cruiser whirled around and fell in behind the first, keeping a constant bead on the two thieves on the motorcycle. 'Are you satisfied now?'
Shego tore through another intersection, cutting off a white limousine coming from one direction and a third police cruiser from the other. 'I won't be satisfied until there isn't a cop left on the island who isn't chasing us.'
Before Sophia could turn to see the third cruiser join in their merry chase, she noticed they were approaching a far busier intersection and they didn't appear to be slowing down. 'Shego?' She felt the excitement pouring out of the older thief's mind, 'I know you want your thrills, but we're coming up there pretty fast.'
'LEAN!' Shego downshifted for a second before throwing the bike into as tight a right turn as she could manage. With absolutely no warning, Sophia leaned with her partner, enduring the turn to come out following the very edge of the traffic with which they'd almost collided. 'Nicely done, Kimmie.' Shego was giving of some light vibes of relief – probably grateful they hadn't run headlong into all that traffic.
'Thank you,' Sophia grinned as she saw a fourth police car – this one a smaller, faster-looking model – come screaming in from a side street just up ahead. 'You're well on your way to reaching your goal – have you got a plan to lose them all?'
Shego laughed and swung the bike around the on-ramp for the highway, 'Nah. I'm leaving that part to you.'
'Okay…' Sophia leaned with Shego's turn again. 'We'll need a very large, open space.' She smirked, 'Since you can't seem to find your way through fog.'
'I'd like to see you do better,' Shego retorted, her mind bubbling with glee.
'I can do better,' Sophia declared confidently. 'I'm a Possible. And besides, what's the use in being able to conjure your own fog if you can't find your way through it?'
'Will you ever cease to amaze me?' Shego's reply was amplified by the wonder in her mind. 'So, large and open, huh?' She paused to think about it. 'How about an airport?'
'Alright then, let's hit it.' Shego smiled, plan in hand, and opened up the bike's Ferrari engine, widening their lead on the police at an alarming rate. 'And this might even convince them to call in a helicopter. Maybe even two.' She passed another motorcycle like it was standing still, and a slight twitch of the handlebars sent her flying past a bright red Corvette.
'You'll be wanting the next exit now.' Sophia tapped Shego's arm and pointed up ahead. 'Des Sources Boulevard.'
'Thanks, Mom.' Shego turned onto the exit, shedding a few drops of speed for the sake of better traction.
'Now, there's no need to be sarcastic with me,' Sophia admonished mock-seriously. 'Okay, the airport's coming up on our left if you want to crash a gate. Or, you could go all the way around to the main entrance.'
'Forget that,' Shego banked to cross the opposing line of traffic and crash through the gate. 'It's just paint anyway,' she gunned the bike for the blank expanse of chain-link fence. 'Here we go,' the experienced thief brushed her thumb against a small round pad on her handlebar, activating one of Dr Drakken's neat little toys.
'Shego – I don't think-.'
'No, we're doing it my way this time,' Shego approached the fence, aiming for what she probably hoped was a weak spot. 'Brace yourself, Pumpkin!'
'Oh boy,' Sophia tucked her head in behind her partner's shoulder. 'Don't get hurt, Shego.'
The Ghost blew through the fence like it wasn't even there. The tough wire of the chain-link panelling flew off to either side of the bike as it fairly exploded under the impact.
Just as she was passing through the expanding cloud of iron fragments, Sophia heart and felt two shards come spinning her way, one ripping a shallow slash across her bared forearm and the other whipping around to carve deep into the upper left side of the bag on her back, slicing right through the leather and ripping Shego's bag open at the zipper, straight between the teeth and the upper edge of the bag's almleti inner lining.
Flinching from the sting in her arm, Sophia felt Shego's belongings shift inside the bag as the small tear widened into a sizeable hole in the upper corner of the bag. Then, an instant later, she felt something slide out the hole and she reacted without thinking, swinging around while keeping her right arm wrapped snugly around Shego's waist and snatching the heavy black armband they'd stolen right out of the air with her left before it could fly out of reach.
"Gotcha!" Twisting back around, Sophia slid the band onto her right arm and replaced her left around Shego's waist. 'Sorry.'
Shego turned her head a few degrees. 'What happened?'
'Your nifty little keepsake just decided to jump right out of your bag when you hit the fence.' Sophia glanced back at the fence they'd left behind, torn to shreds at that one spot as police cruisers spilled through the gap – six now.
'Do we have to go back?' Shego started to bank her bike around to the left.
'No, don't worry about it now,' The Ghost's passenger tapped the armband on her arm against Shego's leather-encased abdomen. 'I caught it in time. By the way, what did you do? I don't think I've ever seen a fence break apart like that.'
Shego's pride and amusement drifted across Sophia's awareness briefly, 'that was nothing. Dr Dee came up with that toy years ago. He had some kind of egotistic name for it, but I don't remember. All I know is the one on the Ghost shoots out a beam of concentrated energy that's way outside the visible spectrum and it breaks down the molecular structure of any material within a second or two.'
Sophia perked up as she threw a pair of icicles behind them to pierce the right headlight and front left tire of the lead police car. It fishtailed from side to side for a moment before swerving off to one side to drop back a ways. 'I remember that,' she shook out a slight tingle in her right arm, too busy to try itching at it. 'Wasn't Jack Hench trying to auction off something like that? I think it was the year I retired, wasn't it?'
Shego bobbed her head, 'Yeah, Dr Dee was a little short on cash around payday. He sold the design off to Henchco but not the Patent. So, Jackie got his boys in R&D to improve on the original, figuring out how to get the thing to reverse its own effect, and he was able to re-patent it and auction it off.'
'I'll never figure out how villains work,' Sophia fired off another icicle, shattering the rear window of a parked bus just to one side of an eighth police cruiser that was approaching them head-on. 'Damn,' she coughed at the miss. 'You have the Seniors with their traditional approach, you had DNAmy, who just wanted to create the best living cuddle buddies in the world, and then you have Jack Hench and his pure-business approach. Then, there was Killigan – I think he just had a fixation with his golf reputation; I just never got it.' She coughed again, her entire chest shuddering briefly with the exertion.
'You okay there, Kimmie?'
Sophia nodded, reaching up with one hand to rub her throat lightly. 'Yeah, she tried again to shake out that tingle in her right arm. 'Yeah, just something in my throat.' She turned away and fired off three more icicles, none of which flew more than a few metres before dropping and shattering harmlessly on the pavement. 'What the…' She tried again, producing even less encouraging results. 'What's going on?'
'What is it?' Concern flowed so readily off of Shego's mind. 'You feel worried.'
'I can't aim.' Sophia tried one more time, but nothing came out this time – not a single ice crystal or water droplet. 'I can't even make ice now.'
'What?' Shego's steering twitched a little.
Sophia shook her right arm violently. The tingle in her arm had developed into a full-blown stinging sensation now. 'What – Ow!'
Unable to take it anymore, Shego spun the bike to the left to rocket down one of the runways of the airfield, her worry and confusion growing. 'Princess, now is not the time to be having glitches with your powers. We need to get out of here.'
A spotlight fell on them from above.
Great, Sophia turned away from her pain-wracked arm and looked up into the brilliant spot, unable to see around it to the source. 'Just what we need.' She coughed violently.
The helicopter was more than able to keep up with the Ghost, and the thunder of its rotor blades drowned out anything either rider could have said to the other, other than across their link.
Shego and Sophia turned to stare at each other for a split second, each sharing the same thought. No way…
But the rough, gravely voice persisted through the loudspeaker on the chopper. "Hey babes, that's one awesomely sweet ride, seriously!" There was a loud sigh, "But I'm an Officer of the law now, you know? You gotta pull over. Seriously."
'Tell me that's not who I think it is.' Shego looked up at the helicopter as she swung around onto another strip of asphalt. 'And what are you doing about getting us out of here and losing all the cops?'
Sophia felt as though her entire arm had caught on fire now and she was shaking her arm furiously to try and dispel the sensation. 'My powers aren't cooperating right now; I'll have to get back to you.' She closed her eyes a moment and tried to focus her powers. She was only trying to call up a thick fog now – something she had never had trouble doing five minutes earlier. She felt the power rising within her, remaining just beneath the surface and waiting to be called upon and used, but it kept dissipating uselessly every time she tried to draw it out. It was almost as if her it was all being redirected to…
Sophia replaced her inflamed arm around her partner's waist so she could use her free hand to pull the black bracer off her arm. Everything was fine before I put this stupid thing on. 'Your armband is doing something to my powers.'
As soon as her fingers closed around the supposedly harmless artefact, Sophia felt a strange tremor run through the thing and it shrank on itself, constricting around her arm with bruising force to become skin-tight and blocked from removal by her wrist and hand. 'Oh…crap.' This can't be good…
Even as that thought crossed her mind, Sophia felt the burning sensation subside from her arm, dying down to nothing.
"Hey! Babes! Are you gonna pull over or what? Seriously."
Sophia shook out the last remaining tingles and stingings from her arm before returning her attention to the matter at hand. 'When on Earth did Motor Ed quit crime?'
'I don't know, maybe he was only in it for the chance to meet you, Red.' Shego swerved around a pair of police cars. How many did that make, now? 'It doesn't matter; can you do your mojo thing now?'
Sophia tried again and sighed, 'No. This thing keeps draining me. I can't do anything, Shego.'
Suddenly, she gripped Shego tightly and buried her helmet into her shoulder as pain stabbed into her arm like a dozen knives, driving deep into her flesh all the way to the bone – maybe even through it.
'Kimmie?' Shego turned onto yet another long, empty stretch of runway, stubbornly ignoring the big lummox's annoying voice. 'What's wrong?'
'Ow…' Sophia held onto her arm as the artefact now began to glow along the lines of runes with a dark red, flickering light. 'It's…' She trailed off as she became aware of an odd pulling sensation in the armband. She felt as though all her powers were being drained from her and into the ancient artefact as the dull red glow grew brighter with every ounce of energy she lost. 'Shego…' Sophia felt so weak…
'Kimmie! Hold on…I'll get us….' The thief's thoughts grew quiet in Sophia's head.
Now even her telepathy was gone.
By now, Sophia could barely think straight between the pain she was going through from the armband, the abrupt and hammering migraine she was developing from the massive power drain, and the noise of Motor Ed, the helicopter and the pursuing police sirens. Then, just when she didn't think it could get any more painful, a high pitched humming sound started blaring from the glowing accessory on her arm and the entire thing started burning with an intense, ice-cold, crimson light.
What now? Sophia looked down just in time to see a bright line of blue light erupt from the armband, shooting out straight ahead, through Shego's back, through the Ghost's console and way out in front of the bike, where it suddenly curled in on itself and spun around crazily to forma shimmering, burning…hole.
That was the best the mocha-skinned thief could come up with to explain the phenomenon. It was just a hole. A hole in the space in front of them, a hundred or so metres ahead on the runway.
"What the Hell?" Shego turned the motorcycle to one side to avoid the flickering circle of swirling light and shadow, but it just followed her every move, remaining directly in front of her and growing closer. "What is that?"
"How should I know?" Sophia flexed the fingers of her right hand, wondering at the sudden absence of pain. Was that whole experience just meant to create this thing? "Maybe it's a portal?" She still couldn't hear Shego's thoughts, however, so her powers must still have been drained. God, I hope it's not permanent.
"Yeah, but to where?" Shego tried to fake the portal out – an absurd notion really – by drifting slowly to the right and then banking hard to the left, but the rippling circle moved too fast, anticipating her every move as if it was tied to the bike in some way – or to its passengers. "Kimmie, I'll break your face if this thing takes us into a war zone! I've seen those movies and that's right where we're going if we ride through that!"
Sophia smiled grimly, "if you're right, I know you won't hurt me because you'll need me." She looked around at their pursuers. "Besides which, do you think we have much of a choice right now?"
Shego stopped trying to evade the spinning portal and simply gunned her bike. "Out of the pot and into the frying pan."
"Welcome to our life, Shego." Sophia tightened her grip a little on her partner, "hey – at least it won't be dull."
"Crazy little optimist," Shego leaned down behind the windscreen of her bike as it pierced the vortex dead-center. "Here we go, Kimmie!"
Sophia felt an intense, body-jarring acceleration kick her in the behind as they rode into the portal and her vision filled with blinding, dazzling lights and stars. Her entire body felt as though it had been left behind on the airstrip as the Ghost was sent rocketing forward into the spinning, roiling maelstrom of shifting and swirling light.
Then, in complete contrast to the manner of its appearance, the portal simply shrank down to a pinprick before blinking out of existence without so much as a sound or a single disturbance of air.
And they were gone.
Five minutes after the dramatic escape and forty-five kilometres off the island…
A fully-laden tanker truck sped down the highway, passing an innocuous signpost marking the strip of roadway as highway 40 before rolling on over the hill, the light from its taillights disappearing a few moments later and leaving the empty stretch of road enshrouded in the darkness of night.
After another few seconds, there was a clap like thunder and a bright blue hole appeared over the highway, suspended a few metres over the road.
From within the spinning portal there came a bright green motorcycle, shooting out of the vortex like a spit ball from a straw. The sleek, gleaming machine dropped to the paved road and its lone rider pushed the bike for all it was worth, their skin-tight, black leather bodysuit providing more than enough protection from the wind. A long-fingered, green gloved hand twitched on the handlebars to straighten out their course as their long, flowing, night-black hair streamed out behind them from beneath a jet black, opaque-faced helmet and floating out over a large, black leather backpack.
As the lime green bike slid off into the distance, a second bike came tearing through the portal an instant before it contracted closed with a sudden, watery sound.
This bike was painted a dark shade of red, somewhere between crimson and maroon, and it was trimmed with a shade of green that was far darker than the first bike. It was more of a dark forest shade, like evergreen.
And where the first had carried only one rider, this one bore two. The first one was small, probably no more than a metre or so tall – if even that. They were completely encased in a dark blue windbreaker and rain pants, with a solid black helmet covering their face and the very tips of their long, dark, blood-red hair flowing out the back. And behind the shorter rider with their dark blue-gloved hands wrapped around the handlebars rode a much taller figure in what appeared to be a leather bodysuit with a dramatic, rakish design in midnight blue and a green to match that same evergreen shade as the trim paint on the bike. Long, flame-red hair poured out from underneath a matching blue helmet to flutter behind the taller rider and above a blue-and-green leather bag in the same style as that of the figure riding the first bike.
The second bike soared out of the portal and landed squarely on the highway, rear wheel first, bouncing once before the driver regained control with a will of iron and sent the bike roaring after their partner.
Into the night.
…Continued in Four Years – Out of the World
A/N: Well, there we have it, folks – The End of this work of craziness. I suspect it might leave much to be desired, but rest assured, I have plans for two more sections to accompany this story. You'll just have to show…a little more patience than I've been asking of you. I have another project I've been wanting to complete for a few years now, but once that's done, I'll be back in this Universe with you good people.
Thank you all, and have a Great Year!!