"…and that's how I defeated the lizardmen," Shego said.
"Wow. That is truly a gripping story," Ron said.
"Yeah," Shego said without feeling and stared out at the ocean. This uncharted Bermuda Triangle island was a beautiful place. "I want you to tell me something honestly, and don't read too much into it."
"Okay," Ron said. He thought: "What would you say if I asked you to marry me?" or, "Do you think that they'd let me go back to the side of good if I wanted to?"
"If I wanted to be a good guy again, do you think that they'd let me?" Shego asked. "I mean, GJ, Team Go, and the others."
Bingo. "Well, that depends," Ron said.
"On what?" Shego asked.
"How desperate they are for help defeating whatever catastrophe they're facing at the time," Ron said. "If the time comes when you want to be a good guy again, you should probably go freelance."
Shego nodded, "That's about what I though."
"So why did you ask me?" Ron asked.
"Just making sure," Shego said.
"Okay. So why did you ask me?" Ron asked.
"The stupid act is cute, but I know it's not who you are," Shego said.
"Yes it is. Even if it's an act, it's the only way I know how to live," Ron said.
Shego looked at Ron. In many ways, he was the perfect man for her: obedient, but with an unbendable core of steel when it mattered; funny and cheery, but he never made light of her issues; a good listener, intelligent, and skillful, in spite of how hard he pretended he wasn't; nonjudgmental, even though his conscience couldn't possibly allow him to live the way she did; most of all, he'd never, ever try to show her up. She smiled. "You know, becoming a good guy again would be more tempting if you promised to become my sidekick when I do."
"Consider it done," Ron said.
"Really? You don't have to consult with Kimmy first?" Shego asked.
"She'll understand," Ron said.
"You know what? I do believe she will," Shego said. "She's a smart girl."
"Beautiful sight," Ron said, looking out to sea.
"Drakken's calling me back to work tomorrow," Shego said.
"What? But, I've only been here for a few days!" Ron said.
"It doesn't matter. Every hour with you is a treasure, dear heart," Shego said.
"As is every second with you," Ron said.
Shego handed him a drink in a coconut. "Well, then, I suppose we had better celebrate while we can."
Ron took a sip of his drink and grinned. "You know, you don't have to get me drunk; I will sleep with you."
Shego laughed. "You slut."
"Oh, yeah. But you're young and pretty, the perfect trophy, so it's okay," Shego said.
"Is a young, pretty trophy all I am to you?" Ron teased.
"You'd better believe it, and I know you love it, you little slut," Shego said.
Ron laughed. "Well, that's true."
"Seriously, though, why are we here burning sunlight looking at this romantic crap when we could be burning sunlight doing a lot more vigorous activities in our room? And moonlight, while we're at it," Shego said.
"Sleep is for the weak," Ron agreed.
TWO WEEKS LATER
"You okay, Ron?" Kim asked as the police took Drakken and Shego away.
"Never been better," Ron said. He smiled. "I did it. I was able to fight her, even though we are going steady. I was able to fight her, full-fledged. I believed I could, but until I actually did it, there would always be that doubt…but I did it."
"Yeah, but now Shego's in jail," Kim said.
"Oh, like this would be the first time she broke out of a jail. And even if she doesn't break out…" Ron shrugged, "well, it's an occupational hazard of hers. I have to accept it."
"Very accepting of you," Kim said.
"Yeah, well, we have to be, if we're going to make this work," Ron said.
"Hey, jailbird! You know, orange really isn't your color," Ron said.
"Funny," Shego said dryly. "What are you doing, dear heart?"
"Visiting my girlfriend, of course," Ron said. "So, like, if you see her…"
"Well, you're certainly full of sunshine today," Shego said.
"How can I not be when I am near you?" Ron asked.
"Even though we can't touch?" Shego asked. There were trailers that couples could use, but the guards wouldn't let Shego and Ron use them, something about statutory rape. Those charges were just another bucket of dirt on the mountain, but it was still annoying.
Ron looked at the camera, and then started slipping parts through the holes in the glass. "Touching would be nice. Doing more than touching would be really nice. But I love you, not your body, so," he shrugged. He mouthed the word "computer."
"They're attached, though. The mind and the body, I mean," Shego said.
"Fine, that shows me for being romantic," Ron said. He made a phone symbol next to his head and mouthed, "call me."
"I understand what you're saying," Shego said.
Ron smiled. "It's just so difficult, not being able to come and visit you every day, you know? Not being able to talk every day and all. I miss talking to you, even more than I miss the sex, if you can believe it."
"It is pretty far-fetched, but I believe you." Shego smiled, "That's just the kind of sentimental sap you are."
"Guilty as charged, my love," Ron said.
"Tell me what's going on in the outside world, dear heart," Shego said.
They chatted until visitors' hours were over and then they left.
"Is there anything you need to tell us?" Will Dew asked.
"Well," said Ron, "I didn't want to say anything, but…well, considering how often Kim and I save your butts, one would think you'd get us an all expense paid trip to the Bahamas, or something."
"It's amazing, how just for a split second last week, while you were with Shego, a freak power surge took out the camera for the visitor's room you were in. It's an amazing coincidence, is it not?" Will asked.
"If you say so. What do I know about wires and stuff? I flunked out of shop," said Ron. "What does Wade have to say about it?"
"He didn't find any evidence of foul play," Will admitted.
"Foul play? I thought you said that it just happened to be a freak power surge," Ron said.
"Don't be cute, Stoppable," Will said.
"Um, ew. I don't want to know that you think of me like that," Ron said.
"What! Never mind. I don't want to know," Will said. "Look, Drakken and Shego escaped."
"What? You know, you'd think that after the six hundredth time that that has happened, you people would learn to build better jails," Ron said.
"What did you do when the cameras were out?" Will demanded.
"When were the cameras out?" Ron asked.
"Stop being a smart ass, Stoppable," Will nearly shouted.
"You know, I never got why when you ask a stupid question, people get mad and accuse you of 'being smart,'" Ron said.
Will opened a laptop and turned it to face Ron. "We caught this signal leaving the jail almost daily. We cannot decode it or find out where it goes."
"Get Wade on it. He'll clear it up for you in a jiffy," Ron said.
"We did. He says it's an eternity code," Will said.
"Well, how long can that take him to clear up?" Ron asked.
"Eternity!" Will said. "At least, in theory.
"Ron, look, the signal goes out every day, except for days when you visit, starting with the day after the 'coincidental' power surge, with two exceptions. Your last two visits, there were signals broadcast on those days as well."
Ron stood. "Look, I have been exceedingly patient and polite with you, but the simple fact is that Kim and I don't answer to you. I did not help Shego escape from prison. In case you forgot, I was one of the ones who helped put her there in the first place."
"Another curious thing. Most men would have a problem sending their sweeties to jail," Will said.
"I'm leaving, Dew," Ron said, and walked out the door.
10 MINUTES LATER
"Hey, Ron, are you alright?" Kim asked, jogging to keep up with her best friend's pace. It was the controlled pace of someone who was about to lose control, someone who would run and run and run, trying to outrun their problems, if they didn't control their pace.
Kim caught up enough to see his face. Were those tears? A trick of the light of the setting sun, maybe? "No, Kim. No, I am not."
"Don't worry, Ron, they were just covering their bases," Kim said.
"I trusted her, Kim," Ron said.
"You…you did give Shego something that day, didn't you?"
Ron nodded. A ball came flying at them. Ron caught it, looked as if he was going to spike it into the river, reconsidered, and gave it back to the kid who lost it.
"Thanks, man," the kid said.
"Whatever," said Ron.
The kid ran off.
"An assemblable computer, so that we could send emails to each other," Ron said. "I didn't think she'd use it to escape," Ron said.
"Ron…what did you expect?" Kim asked.
Ron shook his head. "You don't understand. We walk a fine line with our relationship. We have to be lovers and enemies at the same time without the two truths interfering. If they interfered, one would dominate and the other would die, because these are things that do not co-exist. The only way to keep these things from interfering is to keep them separate. Remember back when I was infiltrating Drakken's organization. She had my confession of double-crossing them long before she caught me talking to Wade in the john, but it wasn't until then that she exposed me. This was because that conversation wasn't Ron-Stoppable-Kim's-Sidekick talking, it was Ron-Stoppable-Shego's-Boyfriend talking, and it wasn't Shego-Drakken's-Sidekick listening, it was Shego-Ron's-Girlfriend. Kim's sidekick didn't give Shego that computer, Shego's boyfriend did."
"I don't think I understand," Kim said.
"Even as pissed as I am, I couldn't ruin that kid's day by throwing away his ball, what does that tell you?"
"That you are an incredibly nice," Kim said.
"I literally can't even swat a fly without feeling a twang of guilt, Kim," Ron said. "Shego…well, Shego's a bad person. If I had to deal with the fact that my girlfriend is sort of evil, I wouldn't be able to, Kim. No, it's not even that: I love her with the whole of my being, but I wouldn't be able to date her, not if it meant that I was helping her to do things that made people suffer."
Ron broke out in tears, really broke out. Kim hugged him, and he clung to her like his life depended on it. His face was in her shoulder and his tears were making it very wet.
"Mm, hmm. I always knew you'd end up dating the loser," Bonnie's voice said. Kim looked up to see the cheerleader looking at them contemptuously, and gave her an impolite sign with her right hand. Bonnie left.
Kim held him, and seriously considered what it would be like to lift his head from her shoulder and press her lips against his. She considered taking him back home, laying him down in her bed, and making love to him. What would it be like to hold him in her arms in a different manner? No. That wouldn't be right. For one thing, she wouldn't take advantage of her friend on the rebound. For another, their relationship wasn't like that.
The ancient Greeks believed in soul mates. They believed that your soul mate was literally the other half of your soul, that the two of you were once one being and then the gods ripped you into two out of jealousy, and that if you found your soul mate, you would become lovers. Kim, however, believed that if you found your soul mate, you'd be much too close to be lovers; it would be like incest. Furthermore, She believed that Ron was her soul mate, and she would do whatever it took to protect him.
"Ron, I think you ought to talk to Shego before you jump to any conclusions," Kim said.
"And what if she did use me to get out of jail?" Ron asked pitifully.
"Well, then, you have to tell her how you feel," Kim said.
"I'm scared," Ron said.
"I know," Kim said. "It won't be easy…but hay, nothing worth doing is, right?"
She felt him smile against her shoulder, and somehow Kim could tell just by feel that it wasn't a happy smile. "I have never done anything worth doing my entire life, then. I goof off in school, get poor grades, never do my homework, always just hang out at Bueno Nacho. Nothing I have ever done in my life has been hard, so I have never tried."
"You calling fighting villains with me easy?" Kim asked.
"Very. But being in the spotlight, that would have been hard. Being admired. Being asked to make decisions…" Ron shivered, "that would have been hard. So I play the fool. Trip over myself, you know. You remember the time I 'accidentally' broke the aiming device off of Drakken's missile? Or the time I 'accidentally' put on rocket shorts instead of blaster skates? If you had the fame and the glory, you'd be the one who would be asked to make the hard decisions."
Kim couldn't believe what she was hearing. "Ron…"
"Still, it's about time I face up to my words. It's about time that I do something worth doing, for once in my life, right?" Ron said. "Dating Shego is the one truly challenging thing that I have ever done, that I have ever wanted to do."
"Well, then, you have to talk to her. Do you have any idea where she would have gone?" Kim asked.
Ron shook his head. "We don't share that kind of information. I mean, if we had to find Drakken before he unleashed his latest death ray on the unsuspecting populace, and I knew where he was because Shego told me, what am I supposed to do? Keep my mouth shut?"
Kim brought out her communicator, "Wade? I need you to find Drakken, and pull out all the stops. I don't care if you have to hack the pentagon, just do it, do it as fast as possible, and, uh, don't tell GJ just yet."
"Um, don't tell GJ?" Wade asked.
"This is a personal issue, Wade," Kim said.
"Oh, I see. So I take it that it is actually Shego that I am looking for?" Wade asked.
"I'll get right on that, Kim," Wade said.
"No prob. In fact, I'm picking up that signal that GJ found in that jail, so I can get you going in the general direction right now," Wade said.
"She's writing me. If I tell her that we need to talk face to face, she'll probably send me her coordinates," Ron said.
"Wait: so you did give her something?" Wade asked.
"Now's not the time," Kim said. "He already told me the entire story, Wade. Just trust me, okay?"
"Um, okay," Wade said.
Kim turned off the communicator, and gave it to Ron. "Here. Call Wade when you know where you need to go."
"You're not coming?"
"A little feminine advice, Ron, most girlfriends don't like when you invite another woman in on your heart-to-hearts. Besides, you need to do this on your own. Especially since it scares you," Kim said.
Ron sighed. "Well, that's why you're the boss," he said. "So, what are you going to do?"
"Help GJ with the coded broadcasts," Kim said. "By the way, how did you come up with a code that has even Wade stumped?"
"It's called an eternity code, and: pfft. As if it's hard. All you do is invent a new language from scratch," Ron said.
"Oh, yeah; simple," Kim said dryly.
"Wait a second!" Kim said. "According to this, that signal went out a 4:15 PM. Shego was visiting with Ron at that time. She couldn't have sent this message, or the other one. That means that she didn't do it. That means that Ron didn't help her do it!"
Will Dew shrugged. "I still think he gave her the means. Not that I personally blame him; love makes men do stupid things."
"Surely, you could have seen this yourself," Kim said.
"We did. We were just hoping that by letting him think that Shego did it, he'd admit his part in it," Will said.
Kim stared at him. "You are a bastard, you know that?"
"Oh, like you don't think she's bad for him? She's a villain and he's a hero. It won't work out," Will said.
"Of course it's not going to work if you manipulate Ron like this! Look, Will, however much of a chance this relationship has, Ron wants it to work, so I'm going to help him, okay?"
"Okay. Do what you have to do. I've go the distinct feeling that I won't be very much of a good guy if I tried to stop you, anyway," Will said.
"Thank you," she called Wade. "Wade? I need you to tell Ron something…"
Ron landed, getting out of the parachute.
"Ron!" Shego said. She went to embrace him, but Ron stopped her.
"We need to talk," Ron said.
The four dreaded words. "What about?"
"When you and Drakken escaped from prison, did you use my computer to do it?" Ron asked.
"What? No, of course not. I know how it would hurt you to know that you had a hand in villainous acts. I would never do that to you, Ron," Shego said.
"Really?" Ron asked.
"Of course," Shego said. "Why?"
"GJ tracked the signal from the computer I gave you. There were a couple of transmissions that weren't for me, on the days that I visited," Ron said.
"That's impossible," Shego said.
"Is there anyway that someone could have gotten a hold of it?"
"I doubt it. I hid it under my mattress, except during inspection, when I hid it in my…well, you get the picture," Shego said.
The communicator went off. "Ron? It's Wade. Kim called me to tell you that the two suspect transmissions were both made when you and Shego were visiting."
"Thanks, Wade," Ron said.
"Drakken!" Shego said. "Stay here, Ron." She ran up to the castle that was their current lair. "Drakken!"
"Yes, Shego, what is it? I'm busy," Drakken said.
"Tell me, when you called for help getting us out of jail, did you use the computer that I had hidden under my mattress?"
"Huh? Oh, yeah, that thing. Yeah, sure. You know, I can't believe you didn't think of it yourself--" his throat was suddenly constricted by Shego's hand.
"And you don't think that maybe there was a reason that I hadn't of used that thing to contact help?" Shego said.
"No. Why? It's not a bomb, is it?" Drakken asked. "I just thought you were doing your I-don't-need-help-from-anyone thing."
"No, it's…well--forget it! I will be back to yell at you about this later. From now on, when I tell you not to touch something, don't touch it!" Shego ordered. She ran back down to where Ron was. "Yeah, it was Drakken. I'm going to hurt him later."
"That's a relief," Ron said.
"You really thought I did it, didn't you?" Shego asked.
"I guess I did," Ron said. "I mean, you had the means, motive, and opportunity, with only your integrity to hold you back," he shook his head. "I shouldn't have. I should have looked at those times. I should have known that you wouldn't do that, not to me…I should have…"
"The temptation was great," Shego said.
"But you resisted. You wouldn't have even been in that position if I hadn't of given in to the temptation to give you that stupid computer in the first place. I have never resisted a single temptation in my life, Shego," Ron said.
"That's just not possible. You don't steal, you don't hurt people, you don't--"
"I've never been tempted to steal, or to hurt people, or anything like that. Even when I have been, the temptation has only lasted a split second, not long enough to act on," Ron said.
"Are you serious?" Shego asked.
"You saw what I was like when I had my essence switched with Drakken's. How quickly I was consumed by evil. I had no natural immunity to it, if you will," Ron said.
Shego hugged him. "You truly are unique and precious to the world, dear heart," she whispered.
"I've always hidden what I am capable of, stayed out of the spotlight, stayed out of being pressured to perform. I've always taken the path of least resistance. What you have seen of me, what you call my act, is not so much an act as it is…me living the way I enjoy to live. I don't know the meaning of the word inhibition."
"No, seriously, I'm not being cute. I literally do not understand the concept of an inhibition," Ron said.
"Well, that certainly explains some things about you," Shego said.
"I never had to nor wanted to actually try in order to do something, not until we started dating, Shego. I want this to work. I will do what it takes to make it work, even though it is literally the hardest thing I have ever done in my life," Ron said.
"I love you, too, Ron," and she hugged him even tighter.
Ron gave himself to that hug. Was the reason that he seemed to gravitate to strong women because he was so weak on the inside? It didn't matter. His life worked, and he was happy. That was all that mattered. Telling Shego the truth was hard. This relationship was going to have a lot of hard moments like that. No matter how hard they tried, Ron wouldn't be able to keep Shego's boyfriend and Kim's sidekick completely separate, and Shego wouldn't be able to keep Ron's girlfriend and Drakken's sidekick completely separate. They were the same person, after all. This was going to be a long, hard road. And yet, Ron wasn't afraid. It was worth it.
"Come with me, Ron."
"I just got out of jail. Where do you think?" Shego said.
"Now that you mention it, it has been a while, hasn't it?" said Ron.
THE NEXT DAY
"I have to thank you guys," Ron said to Kim and Wade. "You were really there for me, when I needed you."
"No big," Kim said.
"Yeah, big," Ron said.
"Is that why you dragged us out into the Alps…and me out of my room?" Wade asked.
"We're having a little get-together, just a few friends, nothing special…and the final guest is due any minute," Ron said.
The door opened, and somehow neither Kim nor Wade was surprised to see that it was Shego. "Hey, Ron. Uh, guys."
"Hey, love," Ron said. "Guys, say hello to Shego."
A few seconds passed. "Well, since you're not here to steal anything or take over the world or something, I guess I can be sociable," Kim said.
"Yeah," Wade said.
"Good. I would have brought Drakken, but he needs some time to get used to the idea of me dating Ron," Shego said.
Ron nodded. "I supposed it couldn't be helped." Truth be told, he wasn't looking forward to seeing Kim and Drakken try to get along.
And so they talked, and they had cake and soda, and they got along. None of them forgot that when she left, Shego would be going back to Drakken. Somehow, though, it didn't matter.
When Shego left, she thought back on them, and wondered what it would be like if they were her friends. What it would be like to be a good guy again, to fight not just for the glee of fighting but for an honest desire to see justice done. Shego remembered that moral certainty, what it was like before it was replaced by jaded contempt. If anyone could rekindle that feeling, it was Ron, Ron and his small but unbreakable circle of friends. She decided that one day, she would have to find out what that would be like. Not today or tomorrow or the day after, but some day. Some day…
Author's Commentary (As If You Care)
When I was starting to write this, I was afraid that it wouldn't be as good as Mole, but I feel that I did a pretty good job here. This really does feel like a continuation of its predecessor.
It was both appropriate to the situation and personally amusing that Kim's idea of a soul mate is virtually identical to Edward's from Obsidian Butterfly (in case you're not familiar with Laurell K. Hamilton's books, Edward is a sociopathic hit man who likes to kill werewolves, vampires, and other monsters, hence the inside joke). I also like Ron's confession of why he was the way he was a few paragraphs later. Believe it or not, that was not planned. It just sort of happened, but I am glad it did. From when I started writing Mole until that explanation slipped from my fingertips, all I was working on was a vague idea that Ron was hiding his true potential, and no real idea why. The whole soul mate thing was also unplanned. I literally got to the part where Kim was considering Ron, and it just hit me that that was the perfect way to describe their relationship.
Can you believe that that entire segment of the text, from where Will Dew was interrogating Ron to where Kim discovers that Shego couldn't possibly of sent those two messages, was written one night when I was literally up from dusk 'til dawn typing, and nursing a hangover to boot? Okay, I made up the part about the hangover, but the rest is true. I should be up all night typing more often, it seems to be good for my work.
I don't intend to write a sequel to this, but as the fact that this one even exists shows, you never know. I just hope I don't end up dragging it out until everyone is sick of it.
And I think the words I ended the missive at the end of Mole with are equally appropriate here:
Well, thanks for reading, and I hope you liked it. No, wait; I hope you loved it, and will read it again and again and again, and tell all your friends about it, and add it to your favorites list. What?