--

A plane soared through the evening sky, scarring the murky blue-red emptiness with streaks of white clouds. At its altitude, tens of thousands of feet above the earth, it seemed like a lone white bird, lost within a sea of azure marbles, glittering in the twilight.

Within the bird, soft lips pursed slowly and stared at the dollops of clouds below, like scattered piles of whipped cream, spooned carefully in places upon the earth. Each white cloud billowed gently and looked delicious enough to eat, promising a sweet but quickly vanishing taste to the gods who would be big enough to partake.

Kim Possible, turned away from the window, running her tongue once quickly over her lips to moisten them, and stared at the woman to her right. The girl immediately was taken with her delicately crafted beauty. Her strong profile was intricately softened by her flowing dark hair that spilled playfully around her waist and pooled by her sides. She was casually reading a magazine, her bare fingers slipping gracefully down the page as her eyes scanned an article on dresses being worn at the next Oscars. The glossy page bowed slightly under the pressure until the soft pads of her index reached the worn corner, slid immediately beneath, and flipped it over to begin the dance again.

Suddenly aware of the attention upon her, the raven haired woman turned slightly, smoothly arching her brow, and tilted her head just slightly.

"What?" she asked plainly, blissfully unaware of the absent minded waltz of her fingers.

Kim opened her mouth to reply but felt it suddenly go dry as the desert. "Nothing," she croaked softly then swallowed.

"Are you bored, or something?" replied her companion, closing the magazine and slipping it into the pocket of the seat in front of her, never once taking her eyes off of Kim.

"No, it's not that," dismissed Kim, finding moisture back on her lips again. She looked around as discreetly as she could, noting the mostly unconscious forms of the other passengers on the sizable plane before leaning closer to the woman. "Shego, are we ..." she paused to consider the best way to phrase her question. "Are we dating?" she asked, finally.

The woman, Shego, blinked then looked ahead suddenly, crossing her legs in the cramped space. "We're going to one of my favorite beach spots to relax," she replied, a little more forcefully than intended.

"Yes, I know," said Kim, glancing to the side. "But given--" she hesitated.

"Given what happened two weeks ago?" Shego interrupted, finished.

Kim started to nod. "Yes, that. And last weekend. And Thursday night."

"I get the point," Shego shook her head then stared off silently.

A few minutes passed. "I just wanted to kno--" started Kim.

"Well, that's great for you," snapped Shego. A few other passengers around them stirred and Shego forced herself to lower her voice. "Maybe I haven't figured it out yet."

Kim blinked. "I thought you were waiting for me before."

"I don't wait for anyone, Princess." Shego crossed her arms and then muttered something.

"What was that?" asked Kim.

"Nothing," Shego shook her head. "Listen, I don't know why everything has to be labeled with you. We partied together before without all this talk."

"That's... true," Kim said, then softly continued. "But you weren't sharing my bed before."

"Speaking of which," Shego quickly supplied. "You gotta move out or something."

"What? Why?"

Sighing, Shego leaned back into her seat. "Looking out for your roommate all the time is a real pain. It's a good thing she has an active nightlife."

"I can't move out on Beth!" Kim yelled a little louder than she intended.

"Well, it's not like I can get a place," returned Shego. "Skipping past border patrol, airport security, and even GJ is easy. Credit checks, though? Way too thorough."

Kim boggled. "That is ... bizarre."

"Just get it out of your mind," Shego looked Kim out of the side of her eye. "We're enemies, who just don't happen to fight all the time."

"And who sleep together." Kim lowered her voice, trying to be discreet this time. She was afraid that their conversation was starting to attract attention in the close quarters of the passenger jet.

"That's..." the dark haired woman trailed off and looked away.

Kim sighed silently, frustrated that the conversation had become immediately an argument. Maybe they were only enemies.

"It's just," Shego said suddenly, surprising the redhead. "Dating implies all that procedure and formality crap that your old high school seemed to be filled with. Gifts, and timed calls, candy, 1-month anniversaries, trips to places you'd rather not go -- meeting families." She looked back at Kim. "You know, the boring parts of being with someone."

The Possible girl paused and digested that. "Well, we could say we're dating and just agree not to do any of that stuff."

"Why is this so important to you?"

"I'm confused why you're suddenly being stingy," replied Kim. "When this all started, you didn't care what a soul in the world thought, and now you're worried about calling me a girlfriend."

"First off, 'stingy?' Okay, when did you become forty years old?" Shego frowned. "Second, as long as we're talking about reversals, what about you?"

"Me?" asked Kim, incredulously.

"Yeah, you! You were the one who turned me away that first morning, even after my casual attitude. Then, suddenly you come back all hot and bothered a week later. What happened to change your mind? You snog that roommate of yours and decide it was cool?"

Kim tossed discreet to the wind. "Beth? I would never!"

"Are you sure?" sneered Shego. "Next week you might change your mind."

"Shego!" Kim warned, gritting her teeth.

"Bring it, Princess," snapped Shego, her hands becoming like claws as green energy crackled along the skin.

"LADIES!"

The two feuding women paused, realization setting in that they were still on an airplane, and turned slightly to find the source of the single word. A flight attendant looked down, dressed in a grey suit with a pair of metal wings pinned to the lapel. The man looked as if he was going back and forth between trying to appear authoritative and fearing for his life at the impending conflict. Authority finally won out as both women stared at him curiously.

"Please, you cannot fight in here. Can you hold off your argument until after we land?" The attendant motioned towards the back of the plane. "If you need, I can relocate one of you to an empty seat in--"

"Fine," Shego interrupted and stood. Grabbing the magazine she was reading she stalked past the attendant and started moving towards the back of the plane.

Shaking slightly, the man bowed his head slightly. "I'm sorry," he said quietly, then turned to follow Shego. Kim followed the two with her eyes, frowning deeply but no longer clenching her teeth.

"What the hell was I thinking?" Kim mused aloud, turning back to sit properly in her seat. "We're never going to get along on this trip, I should just go back."

Folding her arms across her chest, Kim turned to stare out the window again, and noticed the fluffy clouds had since thinned to an expansive covering, hiding the earth from view.

--

Kim stared in awe of the hotel before. It was a grand structure, probably built no more than a year ago, eight stories tall and flush to the nines with style and expensive taste. The Casa Del Grande Sol was all that Kim had been told by Shego when they left for this trip, and now, staring at the coastline hotel, she wished that she'd at least faked contentment during the flight to make up for the massive expense three nights here would cost.

Then again, as the jaded side of Kim's mind kicked in, Shego didn't actually earn any of the money she had, what wasn't stolen was given to her by the many villains she'd worked for. In fact, even by going on this trip, Kim was, in a way, accepting stolen money, which suddenly gave her the chills. What if someone found out? Does GJ keep track of these things?

"Come on, princess," Shego suddenly said from behind Kim. She had just paid the taxi driver Kim took, despite the fact they had argued again in the airport and decided to take separate taxis to the hotel. Kim felt guilty for not having paid earlier, but steeled herself against showing it and giving Shego the satisfaction. "Stop gawking and let's go in," Shego continued to mumble as she slipped past the redhead.

Kim sighed. This was supposed to have been a relaxing weekend. Picking up her bags, she followed silently behind Shego up to the front desk where the latter quickly checked in and was given a set of keys.

Just before she turned to follow Shego to the elevators, she caught a strange look from the desk attendant, who was a young, blonde Asian woman named 'Nami.' Curious, but more interested in ditching her luggage, Kim shrugged it off and continued on.

Once they were at the door to their 7th floor room, Shego handed over one of the two keycards she'd been given. "Here," she said simply. "I'm going down to the beach."

Kim frowned as Shego dropped her bag, pulled out a small bikini swimsuit and headed for the door. A hundred things ran through Kim's mind at once. She thought of every moment she'd spent with Shego since the mysterious thief showed up on her campus one afternoon. She thought of every conversation, and every look. Then she thought of their fights throughout high school, the traded punches, the wins and losses, the insults and embarrassments.

Kim had had these thoughts before, after that first night with Shego two weeks ago. She'd considered all of these visions, these versions of Shego she'd been exposed to over the last six years. She had told her roommate, Beth, on that day that getting involved with Shego was "just not that easy." But it was, ultimately. She decided to accept the person that was Shego, regardless of what persona she was displaying. It should have been simple.

But then she'd fallen back into arguing with her this morning, just like they used to do back in high school. It wasn't as simple as she'd hoped, but a Possible never does anything halfway.

"I'm sorry," Kim blurted, just as Shego was moving through the door to the hall.

The green thief paused, becoming still as a statue for several moments before slightly tilting her head down and proceeding out the door.

--

"Dammit, what does she expect from me?" Shego yelled aloud once her frustration finally peaked.

She was lying back on a beach recliner, slowly baking under the perfect sun while catching a gentle breeze coming off the waves. It was ideal sunbathing conditions, and yet she couldn't seem to relax. As each second passed in agonizing tension, Shego's temper rose another degree until she had to scream or do something that would probably get her banned from her favorite beach spot in the west.

The most annoying part about the whole situation was that she should have predicted this was going to happen. Even before she and Kim had... before two weeks ago she had begun to feel inexplicably connected to Kim Possible. All of a sudden she had realized that Kim's opinions remained in Shego's mind where there should only have been her own thoughts. She wasn't naïve. She knew that she was a very self centered person and had been perfectly fine with the assessment. Actually giving weight to the opinion of another felt to her almost like a death toll.

When they did eventually have sex, Shego'd been relieved. But not for the expected reason. She was relieved because she could blame her changing feelings on attraction. Lesbian or straight didn't weigh too heavily in Shego's mind, although she'd previously considered herself to be heterosexual. If she was attracted enough to someone to desire sex, then, sure, she'd probably pay more attention to what they were saying.

But deep down, Shego knew, now as well as then, that it was something else. She cared about Kim's opinion, even her feelings, which was one of the reasons she was feeling inexplicably guilty right now. Beyond that, however, there were other signs of trouble. Just the other day Shego had been walking around the city near Kim's campus and actually helped an old woman carry a heavy box to her car. She couldn't even figure out at the time why she had done it, as it didn't provide her any advantage. Even her own thievery, which had always brought her joy, she'd gone almost completely without in the last year.

Shego didn't want to admit it, but her feelings towards the world were changing, and what had always seemed like her life calling was starting to appear... petty. She was rich now, after all, there was little that could ever happen to her that would leave her needing cash. Why steal more if she didn't have to? Just a few years ago she'd easily say, "Because it's fun!" Now... wasn't there something more constructive she could do?

"Excuse me?" a light voice flitted on the wind. Shego almost recognized it and turned to see who had approached her recliner.

"I'm sorry to bother you, Ms. Shego," said Nami, the asian desk attendant from earlier.

"It's just Shego," replied the thief.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Nami apologized again. "Um, you were the one who checked in with Kim Possible, right?"

This didn't sound like it was going to go anywhere good. Shego settled back into her recliner. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Oh," Nami said, then proceeded to loiter around for another minute.

"If there's nothing else..." started Shego, but she didn't get to finish.

"If -- If you happen to see her, though, could you pass a message along for me?" the desk attendant suddenly said.

Shego rolled her eyes. This whole weekend has gone straight through the floor and deep into hell. "What?" snapped Shego.

"We've been having a problem the last few days," explained Nami. "With a thief. I just was wondering if she could help."

"Yeah, whatever," the dark haired guest waved the attendant off. "If I happen to see someone I don't know, I'll maybe tell he you want to use her."

"That's not..." started Nami, then trailed off. "Thank you." She turned abruptly, kicking up a bit of sand, then scurried back to the hotel.

"My god," Shego crowed. "Doesn't Belize have their own police around here? It's not like Kim has an excellent track record with thieves either, if I'm any example. There's a reason why they have that saying, 'To catch a thief--"

She paused. Then she turned to look back after the petite woman shuffling up the beach towards the hotel. "Hmm."

--

"Alright, lay it on me," Shego said, stepping up to the concierge in the hotel. She was still in her green-black bikini bathing suit with her beige towel hung over her shoulder and staring at the suddenly nervous Nami through a pair of black sunglasses.

"Excuse me?" the smaller Asian girl said.

"The whole bit," shrugged Shego. "Whatever it was you wanted Kim to do for you."

"She agreed to help?" Her shaky exterior melted in favor of enthusiasm. Shego felt sick. Kimmy fangirls. What a crazy world she lived in.

"Er, yeah." Shego nodded reassuringly. "She told me to find out what I could from you and we'll take it from there. No big." She cringed internally as she spoke the last two words. She wasn't spending that much time around Kim, how the hell did she pick up her mannerisms.

Nami smiled and pulled out a thin blue binder and put it on the counter. "This is everything on the thefts and the guests who were stolen from. It was all very low profile around here, I'm sure it wasn't reported in America."

"It doesn't matter," said Shego opening the binder. "I don't read the US papers anyway." She paged briefly though the sheets. It looked like there were about a dozen stolen items in the last month, all from very rich guests. The brief profiles on the guests indicated their wealth but the names also looked familiar to Shego. She'd considered stealing from these folk before, though she'd never do it at her favorite beach. Paradise was supposed to remain pure. Now someone was staining it with crimes that, if they kept up, would undoubtedly bring attention to Shego's own frequent presence.

Scratching her head, Shego lifted her glasses and ran her emerald eyes over the list of names again. They were defiantly familiar. All were very likely targets for a thief of average-to-modest skill: very rich, boisterous, high profile targets. The personality of these high rollers would prevent them from ever publicly announcing their loss at the risk of appearing weak or careless.

There was a reason Shego hadn't eventually followed through with these minor celebrities, though. She wracked her brain trying to recall. There was definitely a list with all these names on it. She remembered that. There was also an agreement, though. A deal that she made that included a 'hands-off' policy for these names. Aside from Drakken, though, who else had Shego made a bargain with?

"Hey, lady," Shego said, snapping her head up to look at Nami. The dark haired guest pointed at the first page in the book. "I wanna see the guest list for the hotel the day before this theft."

Nami's eyes widened. "I -- I can't do that, it's against policy."

"Yeah? I imagine so's hiring out mercenaries to solve your little thievery problem." Shego leaned on the counter and looked sideways at the attendant. "I give me the list."

"I never offered any payment for your services," commented Nami quietly.

"Which is why you should do what you can to remain on my good side." Shego pointed again. "The guest list on this day, and maybe I'll find you your sneaky thief."

The blonde Asian girl sighed and typed on her computer out of Shego's sight. "Please don't tell anyone I gave you this," the girl said before printing out several pages and handed them over."

Shego's eyes quickly scanned the top page, finding very little else that caught her eye, except that those two famous Agony County stars had checked in together last month. Kimmy hadn't believed it when Shego said they had totally hooked up earlier in the year. Now she had proof. Just... not the proof she was looking. Shego turned the page.

And paused. "Of course," she said, slapping her forehead. "How could I forget? That was hardly an unmemorable experience."

"You found him?" asked Nami, excited again.

"Well, maybe," said Shego, folding up the guest list and sticking it in her bikini top. "I've definitely got a pair of prime suspects though."

"Who?"

--

Kim walked quickly down the beach for the third time, dressed in a white bikini top with a twist in the middle and a lime green stole tied around her waist. The white sand was beautiful and the sun was just the right temperature for some serious sunbathing, but Kim hadn't come down here for that.

Reaching the wharf, she hung her head and turned around again. Three times she'd been up and down the beach and no sign of Shego anywhere. She said she was going to the beach but Kim had to acknowledge that she didn't say which beach. Still, it would have been nice of her to have left some clue, just in case Kim wanted to talk things out, like she wanted to right now. Instead, Kim could only think that their weekend in paradise had taken a radical downturn.

"Where are you?" Kim mused aloud, getting frustrated. For years Kim couldn't get a day's rest without some manic plan from Drakken and Shego, butting themselves into her life on a weekly basis. While that sort of fun hadn't been realized for years now, at least Shego's frequent visitation made it all seem not so long ago. Standing on beach alone, however, Kim wondered what she'd do if Shego disappeared forever.

Resigning herself to waiting, Kim headed back into the Hotel to make sure Shego hadn't gone back to their room.

"Oh, Ms. Possible," a voice called to Kim as she reached the lobby elevators. She turned to see the blonde desk attendant that had given her strange looks earlier in the day.

"Hi," said Kim, awkwardly.

"I thought you had left with Ms... er-- with Shego," the attendant said, half-smiling.

"Left?" asked Kim. Her mind spun. "She checked out?"

"No," the woman tilted her head. "She left to talk to those guys who might be the thieves. I thought you were with her. She said you were working together."

"Thieves? Working? All right, let's start from the top." Kim took a deep breath. "Who are you again?"

The woman immediately bowed slightly. "My name is Nami Osagira, Ms. Possible."

"Please, call me Kim," Kim said instinctually. "Now, what's this about thieves?"

"I asked Shego to help me find a thief that had been stealing from our guests all month. She said she would help and left to investigate some former guests she felt were responsible."

Kim wondered what this woman's idea of 'beginning' was. "Why did you ask Shego, of all people, to help you? She's a criminal, you know?"

Nami froze. "She... is?" Kim nodded. "I-- but... why are you with her then?"

Kim blushed. "We're..." She trailed off and went silent for a few moments. "She and I are... That's not important right now. Did Shego say who she was going to interrogate?"

Nami nodded. "Oh yes. She said she should have thought of it earlier. The names were very strange though."

"Strange?" Kim tried to think who was likely but realized that described just about all her enemies. "Was it Dr. Drakken? Prof. Dementor? Frugal Lucre?"

"No," the blonde thought for a moment. "It was kinda like Catch-22."

"Catch-22?" Kim considered that for a second then realized. "Ohh."

--

Senior Senior Junior looked down at the chained form of Shego before him. She was struggling ever so slightly against the strange black chains while sitting on a well crafted iron chair on his patio. She probably figured he hadn't noticed yet. She'd arrived earlier at his private villa in Central America through a skylight rather than the door, and Junior figured it wasn't for old time's sake. Thankfully he'd had security not only well improved, but well hidden, and noticed the green thief's arrival long before her entry.

Smoothing the fabric across his well tailored white suit, he stood from the table and brought a pitcher of water and a glass over to his captive.

"Care for a drink, Shego?" he asked, politely.

Shego looked at the offering uneasily. "Still following the old man's rulebook for treating prisoners?"

Junior stood still for a few seconds more, then poured the glass and sat on the table facing Shego, sipping the water briefly. "The rulebook was more for posturing before heroes than other villains, so it doesn't really apply here. But no, I have long since shucked his desire for movie dramatics in favor of more sophisticated approach."

Shego frowned. "Apparently." She looked around the villa. "You're not the same immature brat I taught how to steal."

Junior smiled with delight for a second, then forcibly straightened his mouth and returned to his conservative demeanor. "I have had much time to mature from then." He walked around Shego's chair and examined her traditional black and green suit. "I see you've changed very little in the past three years, however."

"Eh," Shego shrugged in her binds. "I stick with what works."

"Except," Junior raised a finger. "I haven't heard anything about you in quite a while either. You always loved your face on the news, but it's been at least a year since anyone's heard anything from you."

"Maybe I'm just that good," grinned Shego. She began moving slightly differently. Junior supposed she was making another effort to free herself.

"It won't do you any good," said Junior, raising his eyebrows. "Those chains were specifically designed to contain you. Father designed them, before..." he trailed off.

Shego looked away, frowning. "He always was jealous of me," she mused. "He didn't deserve what--"

"It doesn't matter," said Junior, suddenly standing. "It's in the past and we don't need to think about it." He breathed. "I doubt you gave it a second thought afterwards. Or Possible for that matter." After a moment, he put the glass down and moved off the patio, disappearing into the house.

Minutes later, he returned, carrying a wooden box with a simple brass lock in his hands. He set it on the table and quietly inserted a key into the hole, turning it to illicit a simple click. Slipping the key back into his pocket he turned back to Shego.

"No, I don't believe that you just haven't been seen," he said. "You haven't done anything really criminal since Drakken's last failure against the Possible Anti-Criminal Team." He opened the box, revealing a pile of pictures and paper and a sizable velvet pouch. Junior ignored the cloth and lifted the papers. "Aside from your prodigious use of false IDs to keep the police from finding you, you've been a model citizen." He laid out several pictures, apparently of Shego. "I've been watching."

Shego looked nervously on. "I don't suppose you saw where I lost my keys last week, I couldn't find them."

Junior looked stoically back at the thief but said nothing.

"All right, so I've been a little remiss in my thievery," said Shego, getting agitated. "How the hell is it your business? Dying for some hobbies or something?"

Junior chuckled slightly. "Actually, I have been," he admitted. "Running the remains of my father's corporate empire after his... well, it's actually quite boring." He reached into the wooden chest and pulled out the velvet bag, playing with it in his hands. "Although, surprisingly, the company is involved in a very large number of illegal activities that a solitary thief like you could probably never do. But it's all behind paper, all I get are reports and summaries. There's nothing I do but sign the work orders."

"Poor you," Shego said snidely. "I can only imagine the difficulties of running an international corporation." She rolled her eyes dramatically.

"You don't have to, you know."

Shego looked back at Junior. "What?"

Junior looked down for a moment, then came over to sit beside Shego, pulling over a chair. "Come work with me," he said softly. "I know I asked you before and you declined but... things are different now. I'm different. The world is different." He thought for a moment. "Even Kim Possible is different."

Shego furrowed her brow. "I'm not really into corporate life."

"Neither am I," said Junior, excitedly. "But together we could use the finances of my company to bankroll any crime you want! We could steal the crown jewels -- the ones in the real Tower of London -- dominate a country, or hold the world hostage!"

Junior was vibrating with excitement but couldn't help but notice Shego's lack of enthusiasm. He forced himself to breath slowly then turned his scowl at his prisoner.

"What is it that you want?" he said angrily and jumped to his feet. "I know you! You want power, money, and control." He turned over a finger for each item then clenched them into a fist. "I can give you them all! What else is there?"

Shego slowly rose her eyes up to look at Junior but paused midway through. She raised her brows suddenly. "Kim," she said, almost in awe.

"She could be you SLAVE," replied Junior. "I'll have her bowing at your feet if that's what it will take."

"I really doubt you could do that," said an angry voice from behind Junior. His eyes widened and he quickly spun on his foot and stared, his mouth slack.

"Kim Possible," said Senior Senior Junior, his composure suddenly failing. "Is it... Are you the real Kim Possible?"

"As real as can be," said Kim, moving her hands to her hips. "Senior Senior Junior. Even after all this time, you're still obsessed with the superficial."

"I'm far more than I was," said Junior, darkening. "I can thank you for that."

"Prove it," said Kim. She eyed him carefully. "Walk away."

Junior stared back at her, challenging her with his steadily accumulating willpower. His teeth grit behind his lips, eyes narrowing to thin slits, and his face became stone, just like his father used to ...

He relaxed suddenly and the tension drained out of his figure. Kim stared on, unflinching, but Junior refused to put up any more fight. Turning away from Kim he looked at Shego, who's eyes were transfixed on Kim but she spared a glance in Junior's direction.

"There's nothing more that can be salvaged from here," he concluded. "Feel free to escape now, Shego."

Shego blinked and stared at Junior now. Her surprise quickly faded and she closed her eyes. The sound of sizzling accompanied by the rustle of metal followed and Shego was standing beside the pile of metal links and slag. Junior held out the velvet pouch to her as she looked at him curiously.

"Take it," he said. "Give it to the hotel; tell them you caught the thief. I won't cause any more trouble for them."

Shego gently took the bag but hesitated before walking away. She looked at him, slightly frowning, but not angry. "We've all changed," she nodded. "Just like you said. Neither of us may know our place now, but that doesn't mean we're lost."

Shego walked over to Kim who had softened her expression. Kim nodded with a half smile and started to turn towards the door, then stopped and looked back to Junior. "I'm sorry about your father," she said suddenly. "I never would have left them in charge if I knew that would happen."

Junior blinked then nodded, solemnly. Kim looked down, then silently padded out with Shego in tow.

--

Kim and Shego tromped silently back from Junior's expansive villa, neither one spending much time looking at the other and instead focusing their energies on examining the path they were on. Shego's jumpsuit was starting to feel more than a little hot and she wished she hadn't changed out of her bikini from earlier. Stealing a glance at Kim, she envied the younger girl for her simple bikini top and green wrap-around that danced playfully around her shapely, tanned legs.

Not that Shego was staring, or anything.

"How did you get here?" Kim asked, breaking the long silence.

"Jeep," said Shego, continuing to not stare at Kim's thighs that occasionally peeked through the wrap as she strode forward.

"Stolen?" asked Kim, hesitantly.

"Rented," admitted Shego. "How about you?"

"Borrowed our nosy concierge's car," said Kim. Then added, "With her permission, of course."

"Of course."

They walked a few minutes more.

"Shego?" asked the younger woman.

"Yes?" Shego was doing a rather effective job at not noticing Kim's bare midriff when she had to raise her eyes to step over a log that had fallen over the path.

"Would it help your staring if I just got naked?"

"Yes, definitely," Shego replied, then looked up to see Kim's face. "Would you?"

Kim smiled and couldn't stop herself from giggling slightly. Shego found it to be contagious and had a hard time containing her own laughter. Eventually the two gave in to the struggle and laughed together, allowing the stress of the day to finally wash aside. They finally continued walking, but their giggles lasted for several minutes more.

"You know, I'm surprised at what you did back there," Shego quelled her laughter enough to say.

"How so?"

"You didn't even throw a punch," she pointed out. "When I saw you I thought you were going to rip Junior a new one."

"I considered it, actually," nodded Kim. "When I saw you chained up... but I didn't want to go back there, to my past I mean. As successful as I was in high school, there were probably better ways to handle things other than fighting it out." Kim looked to the sky, studying the dimming blues above streaks of white near the tree line. "My parents are geniuses. I mean, dad's a rocket scientist. He's a living analogy to intelligence! Mom's a neurologist. The Tweebs skipped through public schooling and are about to enroll at Carnegie Mellon. What have I got?"

Kim sighed. "One of dozens of students who received honor roll all though high school. My name on a modest scholarship to Liberal Arts University. And a history of having won most fist fights I've been in." Kim looked to Shego who was being remarkably attentive. "And the desk server at the hotel remembers me because of the last one."

Shego raised a brow. "You know, comments like that are the reason why I call you 'Princess.'"

Kim nodded. "I know. I have nothing to complain about."

"I didn't say that," warned Shego.

"What about your parents?" asked Kim. "What legacy do you have to live up to?"

Shego's expression darkened and she shook her head. "They were corrupt beings whose own depravity far exceeds any of my 'crimes.'" She looked lost in thought for a moment. "They died when I was young, and I only wish their impact on my life ended there. But, we're not going to talk about them."

"I... didn't know." Kim looked to the side. "We've never really talked about ourselves, have we?"

"It's not my favorite topic," admitted Shego.

"I just figure everyone knows everything already," chimed Kim.

They turned towards one another and stared. They'd looked at one another many times before. As strangers, they stood on opposite sides of a crime, and knew one another immediately as enemies. As enemies, they knew each other's weaknesses and strength, methods of subversion and manipulation. As friends, years later when Shego came to Kim's school, they saw each other as contemporaries, survivors of the 'old days' and talked of past battles. As lovers, they saw each other's flesh and form, the curve of perfection, each smell and taste incorporated into a complex weave of desire.

But now, as they stared, stripped bare of pretext, they saw one another as if strangers once more. Kim shivered involuntarily at the thought and watched with horror as she saw resignation in Shego's sigh.

"I don't love you," Shego eventually said.

Kim flinched without realizing it but Shego steeled herself from reacting. Without anywhere else to go, Shego pressed on. "I can't... let you think that this is some romance between soulmates. On that day, two weeks ago, I wasn't looking for a girlfriend I was... I was hoping for friends with benefits. We're adults, and, we have to face facts. We're not dating. We're fucking."

Shego's body felt like lead as she tried to turn her face away from Kim's form but found it almost impossible. Kim, apparently unburdened by the same suddenly stiff body, looked down to the path and breathed slowly. Each breath was like agony for Shego who couldn't make herself leave but didn't want to hear whatever was to come next. She knew Kim Possible, and some things she just didn't take well.

"Are you okay?" Shego managed to move her leaden mouth enough to ask after several minutes. "What do you want to do?"

In her mind, Kim had a plethora of responses to that question: I want to attack you. I want to scream to the heavens. I want to run from here as fast as I can and hope not to be found. I want to stop the pain in my chest in anyway possible. I want to stop being so easily fooled. I want to beat on Junior for putting us in this situation. I want to have control over who I have feelings for at least once. I want to...

I want to...

I want to be more like my parents.

And suddenly, the pain didn't seem as bad.

"Why did you go after Junior today?" Kim asked.

"Why?" Shego said, confused. "The desk attendant asked me to."

"No, she asked you to ask me." The younger redhead gently shook her head and then looked straight into Shego's eyes, not with anger or resentment or force, but something different. Something softer. "Why did you go yourself without telling me?"

"Because..." Shego furrowed her brow. "Because I know you don't like the attention. You said it once before, when we were clubbing, that you didn't like being reminded of everything you did in high school. I figured you wouldn't have to bother if I took care of the problem quietly. Also, if I'm any example, you're terrible at catching thieves."

"But we were fighting this morning," said Kim, ignoring the last jab. "You were angry with me. You could have done anything you wanted. Why do something to make me feel better?"

"I ... care about your well being." Shego frowned. "I don't want you getting hurt. But that doesn't mean--"

"Why was it hard to tell me just now that you didn't love me?"

Shego blinked in shock. "Because... I was worried it would hurt you."

"But you must have been hurting trying to say it?" asked Kim.

"Of course," blurted Shego. She was getting annoyed at the 20 questions. "But it would hurt you more in the long run if I didn't love you."

Kim raised her brow. "If?" Shego looked away stubbornly, then hung her head.

"I'm not dating material, Kim."

Kim stepped forward slowly and then took Shego's hands into her own. "When you're not around, I want to see you. When you here, I want to make you happy. When you're sad, I feel like I have to be there for you. And when you're naked, you're as beautiful as an angel upon the earth." Kim looked deeply into Shego's eyes. "I don't know how you feel about me, and we've only been close... I mean, really close, for a short time now. I probably can't say I love you either."

Shego's eyes widened as Kim continued. "But I want to find out if I do. I think that's what dating is supposed to be about. Even after six years, we're still strangers in a way to each other." Kim smiled slightly. "I want to see if we can find out a bit more before we decide to quit."

"It probably won't work out," Shego said, softly.

"Maybe," Kim said. "But you have never been a person to stop because something 'probably' wouldn't work, have you?"

Shego reluctantly smiled and shook her head. "No."

--

Shego dropped the purple velvet pouch onto the desk without ceremony while Kim called the elevator in the lobby. Nami, who had stayed overtime to make sure everything went smoothly, squealed in delight.

"Thank you!" she said. "You even got all the merchandise returned."

"Yeah, whatever," Shego waved her off, disinterested. "Don't worry about the thief too; he's been taken care of. You shouldn't have any more trouble."

Nami quickly placed the bag in a hidden vault in the desk and then quickly stood up properly.

"There is one matter, however," Shego continued. "Please don't mention we were here. We'd like to vacation in the future without much world-threatening trouble."

"Of course," the attendant said quickly. "I'll not mention a thing."

Shego frowned but nodded anyway. When she reached the elevators, Kim was already holding one open.

"I give it two days," Shego said, stepping onto the elevator. "After that, you'll have every reporter on the gulf here looking for you."

"I'm not that big," said Kim, modestly. "I never get troubled at school anymore."

"Well, some of that is my fault."

Kim blinked. "What? How?"

"Ever since I started coming around I've had to take extra efforts to remain unseen. The Feds have really stepped up their pursuit of any 'terror-related criminals and accomplices,' which means they probably have a bounty on my head by now." Shego shrugged. "Your school doesn't actually get to report as much as they think they do, in any case."

"Woah woah," said Kim holding up her hands. "I want to hear this."

"Sorry, pumpkin. Trade secrets."

"The hell they are!" said Kim. "Spill it."

Shego smiled evilly. "You'll have to do better than that. I've resisted several forms of torture in my life. Forceful words are hardly anything new."

Kim stepped up to Shego. Unable to intimidate with her size she tried to use her determination. "What kinds of torture?" she said.

"Oh, you know, lots," dismissed Shego, still grinning. "If you want to know anything, you've got your work cut out for you."

Kim reached for the panel and pulled the emergency stop toggle. A muffled sounding alarm sounded as the elevator jerked to a half. "I know a few techniques." She looked at Shego with a hungry look in her eyes.

"You'll have to show me," said Shego, starting to appear a little flushed. "I'll tell you if done it before."

"Oh, some are Possible originals," assured Kim, stepping even closer to the raven-haired woman.

Shego looked at Kim's advancing form and said, "Prove it."

Kim closed the last of the distance, placing the two women close enough that their bodies were touching. "It will be our pleasure," muttered the former cheerleader and world savior before succumbing to what her mind had been playing out for the last hour.

--