The After Christmas Blues
Chapter 3: Shackled by Love
The first thing Kim saw when she came to was her mom's tear streaked face. Like any child, seeing her mother cry in front of her was a scary thing. Parent's didn't cry, least of all her mom. Mom was... Mom, a rock, a brain surgeon, one cool customer who didn't bat an eye over anything.
"What's wrong, Mom?"
Well, at least that's what Kim wanted to ask. Once she started talking, she noticed an oxygen mask pulled over her mouth and nose, muffling her speech.
"Ssssh," whispered Mrs. Dr. Possible, "It's ok honey, everything's fine now."
Everything's fine now? What was wrong to begin with? Why was she here? Where was here?
The rising panic in her daughter's eyes forced back the elder Possible's grief. "Don't worry about it. You'll have plenty of time later to-"
Agitated, Kim pulled off her mask and interrupted, "Mom, tell me why you're crying."
Gently but sternly, her mother replaced the oxygen mask. "I'll tell you if you keep the mask on and stay in bed. Promise?"
Promise. Kim's heart skipped at the word, but why?
"Do you remember the mission you and Ron went on this afternoon?"
No. Kim shook her head and furrowed up her brow.
"Honey, it's normal. You'll get the memories back eventually..."
What was normal? And eventually? When was eventually? The words coming out of her mom's mouth went in one ear and out the other as she racked her brain for remembrances of today. Felt like trying to slurp up the last vestiges of an Icee with that inept red straw, but that never discouraged Kim.
If anything, failure motivated her.
Torn tendons. Crushed metacarpals. Severe lacerations. And the scariest part? The last line:
Shego glanced at the cast immobilizing her right forearm, wrist, and hand. With the medication wearing off, her body protested against the injuries and subsequent surgeries. Apparently, her body didn't feel like including her hand anymore because she couldn't feel it.
Damn, that Killer Bebe did a number on her.
The two words seemed to echo through her quiet, one patient room. She wasn't a doctor, but nerve damage equated to bad things, namely body parts being useless if extensive enough. Guess she wasn't so invincible after all; guess she and Kimmie weren't the deadliest things on two feet.
Nerve damage--the price she paid for losing.
It could've been worse though. Kimmie could've died and the world would've blamed her for it. Could see the headline now: "Thief Murders Kim Possible." She'd have everyone in the world hunting her down for an unthinkable crime she'd never commit. But things didn't happen that way. Kimmie was going to be ok, at least, as ok as a person with a severe concussion could be. Stoppable saved the day with his monkey kung-fu and the nerd's shoes.
What kind screwed up world was this? She got nerve damage and Stoppable got medieval on something. Ron "Buffoon" Stoppable not only defeated something both she AND Kimmie could barely dent but also had the wherewithal to get the two of them into a hospital.
And there was another thing: hospitals. Wherever there were hospitals, there were records. Whenever anyone pulled up Shego's records, there would be GJ. Seeing how much attention GJ put on her today, an arrest looked to be in her future.
Escaping with one hand would be a challenge.
A timid knock drew Shego's eyes to the door. Without her consent, it opened a tiny crack, enough to allow a single annoying blonde head in.
"Shego, you awake?"
"No, Stoppable, I sleep with my eyes open."
"Oh," he blinked, impressed, "Wicked. I'll just... uh... let you sleep."
The closest object to her left--a plastic bedpan--went flying into his forehead. "I was being sarcastic, dufus!"
Ron was a simple man. Being a simple man, he didn't quite know what to make of the situation. While Shego was now certifiably awake and cognizant, the scowl and violent behavior told him chit-chat wasn't a good idea right. Thus, the quagmire: ditch Shego and face her wrath later or face her wrath now.
Ron swallowed the lump in his throat and scooted into the room. "Sorry about waking you up but I wanted to-"
"Gloat over your victory?"
"Gloat." Shego slouched down into the too-thin hospital sheets. "It's what people do when they win."
"Win? What did I win?"
"Don't act stupid, Stoppable. You saved Kimmie, destroyed something the two of us couldn't touch, and hauled in my sorry butt. You've won."
"About that robot," chuckled Ron nervously, "I didn't exactly, well, you know, 'destroy' it."
"You're telling me that thing decided to leave us alone?"
Shego had on her best "gimme a break, I'm not stupid" glare.
"See, it kinda retreated when GJ's helicopters flew in."
Great. "GJ," Shego groaned. With a odd, uncomfortable twist, she threw the covers over her head. "Exactly what I need to finish my shitty day. You're just here to rub it in, aren't you?"
"Wha? No, I came here to say thank you."
"Thank me for what? Making you look like a superhero?"
"For saving KP!" yelled a fed up Ron. "It might seem strange to you, but when you do something good, people tend to appreciate it. If you weren't there, the doctors say another knock to Kim's head would've given her permanent brain damage. Even worse, that Killer Bebe could've... could've..."
"Could've killed her," Shego finished quietly.
He dropped his shoulders and hung his head. "Yeah, and I'm suppose to be part of Team Possible. I'm suppose to be the one helping KP, but I let her down. Instead of watching out for her, I was running around that oil factory like an idiot, lost. I kinda... I just..."
Wiping a tear from his cheek, he sighed, "I'm thankful you were there when I wasn't."
She pulled back the covers, enough to reveal one green eye. Before her was a pitiable person and not the arrogant showoff she'd envisioned him to be. He looked genuinely miserable, about as miserable as Shego herself. Maybe he was sincere. Maybe misery loved company. Maybe she wanted him out of her room.
Whatever the reason, "You're welcome."
The two words tripped and stumbled out of her mouth, but nonetheless they sounded sincere. Sincere, not quite the word to be associating with one fire throwing, foul tempered thief. Ron chuckled softly. "KP was right."
Intrigued, she crept further out of her cloth cocoon. "What was she right about?"
"That she can't see you taking over the world anymore."
Anger bubbled into her mind to replace quietude. "So the two of you think I'm a has-been, washed-up softie?"
"No," he replied, backing away as a cold sweat broke, "I mean, an evil person wouldn't save KP, you know? And, like, evil people are the kind of people who take over the world. You're still evil, just not Evil with a capital 'E.'"
"The more I listen to you, the more I want to hurt you."
"How about I shut up now?"
The covers, her barrier to the world, slinked back over head. The entire scenario felt somewhat childish to Ron, but was he about to voice it? No. However hurt Shego was, he still feared her. Without Wade's shoes to aid him (along his own Mystical Monkey Powers not fully mastered), the chances of him getting a nice face full of green plasma tethered on the high to almost-certain range. Besides, he was pretty sure picking a fight with a patient--even if said patient was an internationally wanted criminal--wouldn't be tolerated in a hospital.
And he only had one more thing to ask Shego.
Summoning up the last of his courage while quietly shuffling back to the door, Ron broached the question which brought him in here to begin with. Oh, he wanted to thank Shego, but something else lingered on his mind, something far more personal and quizzical.
"Why did you do it?"
Rustling, a turn of the blanketed lump, and silence. Christmas changed things between them, between all of them, but had it really changed them to the point of the self-sacrificing protectiveness Shego showed? Just between Ron himself and Shego (and by extension, Drakken), not much transpired except a better understanding of each other's already well observed quirks. Something happened with Kim and Shego, something much deeper, of that much Ron knew. What that something was he had no idea, but whatever it was, it couldn't have been because of Christmas dinner. People didn't go from deadly rival to saviors like that, at least no one in real life did.
Not that Ron minded the sudden change in heart--without Shego, Kim wouldn't have been alive. Whatever the villainess did from now on, the benevolent act and this profound moment would always influence Ron's perception of her. And as curious as he was, as much as he cared for Kim, he needed to know what that influence was.
He needed to know how to treat his best friend's worst enemy.
His back hit the door. Took him the better part of a minute to get here and in that time, Shego lay as quiet and still as a slumbering lioness. He closed his eyes and sighed to himself. He'd been pushy, way more pushy than he normally was, but he got that way when Kim's life was involved. Shego was probably mad at him, then to top everything off, whatever pain medication the doctors gave her probably knocked her out.
Wouldn't be getting his answer today, maybe not ever.
He wrapped his hand around the doorknob and-
"I promised her."
The blankets were off again. He looked at her expectantly, waiting for more of the story.
Shego ran her good hand through her tussled hair. "I do a lot of things but I don't break promises. She wanted every day to be like these last two weeks. It can't happen, so I promised her the next best thing: as long as she wanted me, I'd be there for her. "
Their eyes met and wouldn't break away, Ron searching for the truth and Shego challenging him to find any falsity. Finally, "That's an awfully big promise."
"Kimmie's an awfully pushy girl."
"Why though? What happened between you and KP? One day she throws you into the Middleton River and the next she says you're 'sensitive and conscientious.'"
"It's simple, Stoppable. What else can turn enemies into friends? What else comes from so much pointless fighting? What else is left when you can't hate someone anymore? What happens when two people finally realize they're more similar than they ever thought possible?"
"Special Agent Load, what can I do for you?"
"Actually, you can call me Wade."
"That's hardly the appropriate greeting for an upstanding member of Global Justice."
"I know, which is why I'm quitting."
"I'm quitting. Last mission was-"
"An aberration for us. I assure you, agent, that we strive for the best methods and results every time."
"Well, it's just that after doing some thinking, I've kinda realized that I joined GJ for all the wrong reasons."
"Joining for the wrong reasons doesn't preclude one from continuing on the right path."
"Maybe, but it got one of my friends hurt. I can't sit here and let it happen again."
"Ms. Possible puts herself at risk every time she responds to a tip on her website. You cannot hold yourself or us accountable for unforeseeable events."
"No, I can. I'm suppose to be helping her and giving her information so she doesn't get hurt. Instead today, I led her into a trap that almost got her killed."
"You're failing to see the bigger picture. Dr. Drakken was arrested, Shego will be jailed once the hospital releases her, Ms. Possible is projected to make a full recovery, and we've reclaimed a host of stolen goods from Drakken's lair. Mission objectives accomplished and the world is a safer place."
"But the way we made this all up just to get Kim away from Shego-"
"It was necessary. It still is necessary. Shego is a dangerous and manipulative individual who can't be allowed to roam free."
"She didn't seem that bad when she came to Kim's rescue."
"What did I tell you about Shego, Agent Load? Dangerous and manipulative. Shego only appears to be apathetic, but underneath the act is a devious mastermind who will stoop to any low to achieve her goal of world domination. We did the right thing for Ms. Possible's sake."
"I just... I can't..." Wade took a deep breath. "Don't try to convince me otherwise. I'm quitting and that's that."
"You are aware of our nondisclosure policies, correct?"
"Global Justice maintains the right to monitor your activity at any time to prevent classified information from being leaked."
"Wait, I don't remember-"
"And should we deem such information to be shared, you can be brought to a tribunal before the United Nations for endangering the countries involved."
Wade sat before his monitor, mouth agape. "Are you threatening me?"
"I'm informing you of our policies and I'm asking that you reconsider your choices."
"That's dirty. That's... that's... evil!"
"Not evil, Agent Load, justice at its finest."
The memories slowly filtered back in. The Killer Bebe, the talk with Ron, the phone call with Monique, and the morning with Shego. All of it began to come back into focus one small fragment at a time, all of it except for the disastrous fight itself. Took the better part of the day's remains to even fit together any coherent picture. Though the recovery eased her mom's worry, it wasn't enough to convince said parental unit that she didn't need to stay in the hospital overnight for observation.
After such a terrible day, Kim wanted to curl up in her own bed with her pandaroo and not have strangers milling around her.
That was exactly why she snuck out of her room in the dead of the night to seek out Shego. They needed to talk; actually, Shego needed to talk and Kim needed to listen. According to Ron and Wade, Shego was there for the concussion and seizure. She also got the worst of the Killer Bebe's fury, though what that entailed no one would tell her. People keeping quiet meant bad things in Kim's experience. She needed to know what happened in the time that was robbed from her. She needed to know how Shego was.
Not to mention she needed to see Shego, to be near her and prove everything that the robot and Monique said wasn't true.
With stealthiness born from world-saving experience, Kim slipped into Shego's darkened room. She waited a beat for her sharp eyes to adjust to the darkness. A lump rested in the bed, but even from this far away, she knew the lump wasn't Shego.
Dread entering her heart, she walked to covers and pulled them back to reveal a cache of pillows and a folded piece of paper. Eyes watering and hand shaking, Kim snared the missive. For a second, she considered not opening it, the deepest part of her soul saying it had to be terrible news.
However, curiosity won out. The paper opened with a soft crinkle, and inside, a terse message scrawled unneatly stared straight up at her.
It was then that the door opened to admit a frazzled looking doctor and a handful of people Kim recognized as GJ agents.
"We need to talk."
"Who is this? How did you get this number?"
"I'm hurt, Betty. Did I move out of your most wanted list or something?"
"Shego. You should be-"
"In a pair of handcuffs? I have other ideas. Besides, I know your style too well. Always catch them off guard, right? Why arrest a semi-conscious person when you can get her in her sleep after the medication's sunken in? You're predictable."
"What do you want?"
"I want you to leave Kimmie alone."
A sharp, bitter laugh sparked into the receiver. "And why should I even consider your demand? You're dangerous Shego, a hardened criminal with few scruples and an unquenchable greed. On the other hand, Kim Possible is GJ's most promising resource. I'll be damned if I let you continue manipulating and seducing her. I haven't forgotten what you tried to do to previous contractor of mine."
"I paid for my mistakes. There's no one else who regrets what happened to B more than me."
"Tell that to her family. In fact, tell that to someone who cares. My stance on you will never change: you should be locked away from society."
"What if I'm willing to offer you a deal?"
"... Go on."
"I'm not stupid, Betty. I know what happened today. You tried to kill me, silence me so you could replace me. You set Kimmie up, tried to make me look like a heartless user with that Killer Bebe you dragged up out of nowhere. You wanted to hurt her so she'd never even think of me again. Great plan, you just didn't imagine losing control of your little toy."
"Is there a point to this conversation?"
"Toys you play with, and when you're done, you throw them away. Kimmie isn't a toy--she deserves to be loved and cherished. That's why I don't want you contacting her ever again. I don't want you interfering with her life, giving her missions to go on, or watching what she does. I don't want her to have anything to do with GJ. She's too good and innocent for the business."
"So I was right about you. You're a control freak who-"
"I said I don't want her to have anything to do with you or GJ. I said I wanted you to leave her alone. I never said anything about her saving the world or helping cats out of trees."
"That's how you start, Shego, one little thing at a time. You're corrupting her like you did Ms. Summers."
"Fine, I am. Take my words any way you want to; I don't give a shit what you think. Point is, I'm willing to make a deal with you if you're willing to accept my terms."
"Depends on what you're offering."
"Information about WEE."
"How do I know your information is good? What if I already know what you have to tell me? After all, Gemini IS my twin brother."
"I'm talking about informants, weapons suppliers, bases, and hideouts. I'm talking about places I've been, people I've seen, and stuff I can get from him at the drop of a hat."
"That's it? Shego, I'm the head of Global Justice. We have undercover agents in WEE's ranks which can tell me all of these things."
"And I can tell you who in Global Justice is working for WEE."
"You keep thinking that and we'll see which twin comes out on top."
"So that's all you have for me? You drop a few names and expect me to give up on my most effective contractor? Who do you think I am? Drakken?"
"What can I do to change your mind?"
"How about an exchange: Kim Possible for you."
"Both you and Ms. Possible have roughly the same hand-to-hand skills. Both of you are well-versed in espionage and infiltration. She is off-the-charts in terms of creativity, ingenuity, and stubborn motivation; you have your vast knowledge of the criminal underbelly and those impressive powers. If you want me to leave Ms. Possible alone, I will, but only if you are willing to fill her shoes."
"You... want my freedom for hers?"
"You say you're not manipulating her. You say she should be cherished and loved. Time to prove to me that you aren't the criminal scumbag I know you are."
"What will I have to do?"
"Things Ms. Possible does now when we call her in. I'm sure you're intimately aware of what I'm referring to."
"For how long?"
A sinister pause. "For as long as you don't want me to contact Ms. Possible."
A frightened pause. "Only if you clean my record too."
"Five by five."
"Why do you say that? What does it mean?"
BRB. Be right back. Seemed like so long ago Kim first saw those words. The holiday mood finally ended, school finally started, things had finally settled down, and still no sign of Shego.
Slinging her backpack to the floor, the dejected redhead spun the combination to her locker. 33, 7, 2. Click. Out tumbled a gym bag (for cheerleading practice) and a fistful of mission gear (grappling hooks, rocket shoes, pens disguised as pencils disguised as lasers disguised as electromagnets). To her left, Shego's photo smirked at her, cocky and alluring all in the same breath.
"You promised," whispered Kim as she stuffed her backpack into the locker.
Shego promised to be right back. Shego promised to be there whenever Kim wanted her to be. Shego promised she never broke her promises, but after all this time, after the world seemed to have moved on with post-Christmas life, she wasn't here. She didn't even call to offer an explanation.
A part of Kim felt abandoned (Who was Shego anyway? Thief? Girlfriend? Superheroine? Sidekick? Villain? Liar? Savior?). Another part of her felt worried (Where was Shego? Was she hurt? Ok? Arrested? Plotting another heist with Drakken?). Her whole being felt jumpy and queasy as she refused to accept that their time together had been nothing.
Nothing, like what that stupid Killer Bebe said it was.
The mocking voice sounding so much like Shego crept up on her again. "Say goodnight, Kimmie. I'm sad I didn't get to fuck your little virgin brains out, but trust me, I'll get over it."
She slammed the locker closed.
"Whoa, KP, I know school is a drag but..."
"I'm just out of it, Ron." Her long gait aimed the two of them in the gym's general direction. "School, parents, saving the world, you know how it is."
Her best friend in the entire world smiled at her. "It's more about Shego, isn't it?"
"No. I mean, yes, kinda."
"Hey, no worries KP, I know."
The sentence froze her midstep. "Know what?"
"Why you're stressing over her. She told me that night in the hospital."
Wham. The truth came out of nowhere and slammed Kim in the face. Ron knew. Ron KNEW. Her best friend in the entire world knew she was dating her worst enemy in the entire world! "Ron, it's not-"
"No need to explain, KP. I mean, I'm still a little wigged out at the whole thing, but I'm ok with it. That's why Rufus and me have been MIA for a while. Had some time to think, you know? "
"No, I don't know. What did she say to you? Do you know where she is? What's wrong with me? Why can't I stop talking about her?"
A comforting arm wrapped around her shoulder. "Ok, we're ditching cheerleading practice and heading to Bueno Nacho. Nacos, soda, and talk--it'll be like old times again!"
"Well, old times like last semester."
Without waiting for her approval, Ron steered her to the back of school, exactly the opposite of where they wanted to go. Getting to their favorite hangout hotspot was faster from the front, so, "Why are we going into the parking lot?"
Ron just smiled wider at her and pushed open the double doors. Sunlight filtered into the dreary back exit. Cars belonging to teachers and some students lined row after row of spaces. Parked in the "No Parking" zone was a black Jaguar gleaming in a furious glamour, almost blinding. On the hood lay Shego, decked out in black jeans, a stylish green coat, and a pair of sunglasses.
For a moment, Kim thought she'd lost her mind. Wasn't until Shego lazily rolled her head to the side and lifted up her glasses did reality set in. "Well, well, look what the sidekick decided to bring out."
Kim stared at Ron, her eyes asking (pleading) for an explanation.
"She called me last night," he shrugged, "Asked me to help surprise you."
"And you're ok with this? Ok with us?"
"Hey," interrupted Shego, a frown on her face, "Don't I even get a hello?"
She got more than a hello. She got a crushing huge and a face full of red hair. She got an ecstatic squeal and a grin that could and would light her days to come. Freedom... what did it mean without purpose? For the first time in a long time, Shego put the welfare of somebody else above her own, and know what? It felt good.
This felt good. Felt good to be appreciated and loved. Felt good to be happy. Felt uncomfortable without her freedom, but being with Kimmie felt too good to pass up.
This was what she needed. Years ago, a lifetime ago, she had something like this but she threw it away. She broke her promises, got jealous, and in the end, had nothing to show for her pain. It'd been a long road since those darkest days, learned a lot and seen many things. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine she'd see another like B, another equal, another complimentary spirit, another pure heart who only wanted to heal the world, but here she was.
Kimmie. A second chance. A new test to see if her experiences taught her anything. Kimmie.
It was the Chosen Two all over again.
"Hey Shego." Kim looked down and reached for Shego's wounded hand, the one supported by a sophisticated looking brace. "Are you..."
"Ok? I've been better."
"There's so much I want to ask and-"
A kiss, light and quieting, covered Kim's lips. With a mischievous glimmer in her eye, Shego backed away as quickly as she moved in. "You'll get your story time, Princess. I've got a lot to tell you."
"Yo!" yelled Ron, waving from afar, "What about me?"
"Hop in the back, Stoppable. Just make sure you don't get footprints on the leather. We're going for a little ride."
- The End.
It's done! Well, at least this part is. I'm already starting on the next in the series and I'd appreciate any sort of feedback you'd like to give me. Observations, criticisms, praise, topics you'd like to see explored, anything and everything would be excellent. I'll try to work as much of it as I can into the next story. Thank you for reading, an even bigger thank you to all of you who gave me feedback,and I hopeeveryone enjoyed what I've finished so far! Till next story!
-P.S.--Now the crossover is just a little too obvious!