Not-the-Author's Note -
I didn't write this. It was "given" to me, no strings attached, by someone who liked the story but for some reason wishes to be anonymous.
This is an "epilogue to the epilogue" to "Alone, Together". I enjoyed it, thought y'all might too.
Property of Failte 200
Disclaimer: "Kim Possible" and all characters within © The Walt Disney Company and its related entities. Kim Possible created by Mark McCorkle & Bob Schooley. All rights reserved. No profit is being collected from the fiction contained within. This vignette was written for Failte 200 and you won't (ed- "find") my name on it anywhere. Please accept this for whatever you feel that it's worth; feel free to wad it into a figurative ball and chuck it in the bin if you wish. Otherwise it will never again see the light of day. I was re-re-reading 'A,T' and had this stupid idea. Having so many stupid ideas, I often give them away. Please consider this a 'thank you' for your having written such a great story.
"Are we there yet?"
"Almost, baby, almost."
The reply had been nearly as automatic as the question. Satisfied nonetheless, Shego's features relaxed and she drifted back to sleep. Kim kept her speed steady and her eyes on the road; she had put in just as much of a hard day as her spouse but the petite redhead often felt more invigorated after a mission. She had offered to drive and Shego had taken her up on the offer.
Now Kim glanced away from the quiet road and the trees glowing red from the setting sun behind them. She looked down at her wife in the passenger seat, huddled under her safety belt and using the 'GJ' issue field jacket as a pillow. The former villain had been working hard, so very hard, to prove to herself that she could still be the hero, be again what she had once been and justify the love and trust that she looked for in Kim's emerald eyes. The love would always be there, as would the trust, and Kim would never openly ask her wife to explain the motivations behind her rebirth. The pale green woman might never have been able to speak the words even if she knew them.
The mission that day, the mission that in truth had occupied more than three days of their lives, had ended successfully and it was pure happenstance that it was within driving distance. Working to earn her freedom, being an agent of Global Justice occasionally took more out of the older woman than she would have ever admitted, and this was why Kim would not question her. If Shego was tired, she could sleep as long as she wanted. The redhead smiled to herself and adjusted the rearview mirror; she loved to drive more these days anyway, and never passed up the opportunity to chauffer her own 'Princess' around.
The afternoon was drawing to an end and they were returning to the home that they had made for themselves. Kim felt the warm glow of pleasure when she made the last turn and left the road, the car swaying slightly as the tire caught the edge of a familiar pothole, taking her car down the narrow lane that…
The narrow lane that…
"Are we there yet?" Shego roused herself, the bump from the pothole bringing her into full wakefulness. The massed coils of her black hair covered her face and she untangled her hands from around her chest to pull the hair away from her eyes. She squinted against the setting sun, looking around at her younger wife and at the terrain beyond the car. "Kimmie? Are we home yet?"
Kim lifted her foot and let the car idle, taking it out of gear and allowing it to gradually lose momentum and slow to a stop. She was unable to answer. Too stunned to speak, the redhead turned off the ignition and steadied her breathing.
"Kim? Are you Ok?" Shego was fully alert now. "What's wrong, sweetheart, you can tell me." Following Kim's blank stare, the older woman looked out through the windscreen. She saw nothing that should warrant her wife's present condition; there wasn't anyone around, the place looked quiet and the house was…
They were parked in the driveway of a modest farmhouse, still several miles and as many minutes outside of Middleton proper, and definitely not the home that they had shared for over a year. This small and noble farmhouse, or rather its counterpart in an alternate universe, had been their home and base of operations for most of the time they had spent trapped in the parallel existence they'd come to dub the 'Other World'.
Also robbed of the power of coherent speech by what she saw, movement visible from the corner of her eye brought Shego's head back around to inspect her wife. Kim's mouth was working but no sounds came forth; she did manage to turn her own head around, though. After several seconds passed, Shego forced out some words.
"Oh, baby, I'm sorry." Kim's hands unlocked from the steering wheel and waived aimlessly before her. "I… I wasn't paying attention, I…" Her eyes looked confused and pained and maybe a little wet. She frowned in a way that Kim Possible hardly ever frowned; it was the look of ultimate bafflement.
"No, it's Ok." Shego might have regained her speech faster but was still struck motionless. It was a supreme effort to shift her body in the seat and face the world outside. "It's Ok, really." Her hand might as well have weighted a ton but he managed to lift it and gently stroke the arm of her valiant little Princess.
"Let's get out of the car."
"Really? I mean…"
"Pumpkin, really, it's Ok." Shego popped open her door, hearing a faint gasp beside her. "Let's get out for a minute."
The day had been warm and the late afternoon hour was just at that moment when the sun struck you horizontally, warming and blinding you but all too ready to vanish below the far-off hills and leave you cooler than was comfortable. It was a beautiful day. There were clouds of tiny insects and Shego watched them floating over the nearby vegetation as she walked to the front of their vehicle and leaned back against the grill.
It wasn't long before her angel joined her.
"So… any particular reason for bringing us here?" There was no anger or bitterness, just unadulterated curiosity. Shego gave her partner all the time in the world to answer.
"I guess that I wasn't paying attention to where we were, the route that I'd taken." Kim shook her head. "You know how you can be driving and suddenly realize that you've lost time?"
"I think that's what happened to me. I just took the wrong road." Kim shrugged and blinked a few times. "Running on autopilot."
"Are you Ok?" The stunned feeling was wearing off and in its place was a sort of bittersweet embarrassment. Shego nudged Kim with her elbow. "Do you want to ring the doorbell?"
"What? No way!" Kim's scandalized expression made Shego grin and she was greatly relieved to see her angel blush and show a tiny smile of her own. "It would be far too weird."
"Sick and wrong."
"Let's take a closer look."
"Alright." They ambled down the dirt lane and were barely aware that they'd joined hands.
The house was not as they had last 'seen' it; baring the fact that it had been that other planes version in a world suddenly bereft of people, this structure was obviously alive with the occupation of its owners; there were sheets hanging from the clothesline to the side of the house and the narrow entry into the kitchen was open in favor of a screened door for ventilation. There were details that sparked memories; the window of the room where they had loved and slept, the rusty water pump that Kim had to restrain Shego from blasting to powder whenever it refused to draw water, and the barn just beyond the house.
The barn had caught Shego's attention as well but Kim could tell that her wife's resolve was strong. They walked right up to the stone pathway that linked the rear porch to the rest of the property and simply stood there, privately reviewing memories that were still not fully restored to them after so much time.
"Can I help you ladies?"
"GHAA!" They spun around and almost knocked each other to the ground in their uncoordinated efforts to run, fight or hide. The young man appeared to have been so badly startled by their reaction that he might have leapt out of his skin. Kim was the first to regain her composure enough to address the boy.
"We are so sorry for intruding like this!" Kim made her nervousness work for her and flashed a frenetic smile that apparently looked friendly enough to put the boy's mind at ease. She gestured back over her shoulder. "That's our car in your drive; I hope you don't mind."
"No, ma'am. I guess it's Ok." The boy might have been in his late teens and finding two attractive females sneaking around didn't seem to be causing him any concerns. He was starting to eye each woman just enough to irritate the other when his mouth suddenly broke into a wide grin and he stared at Kim in amazement.
"Hey, you're that girl from the news! You're Kim Possible, right?"
"Um, yes…" There was less enthusiasm and more trepidation that there used to be since their experiences two years ago. Kim could never be sure what it was she would be remembered for; was she the famous young hero or that famous young lesbian. "That's me."
"You saved all those people when that electrical fire happened over at the Lowerton rail yards! My Uncle was in that fire and he was one of the men you saved!"
Shego had crossed her arms and was keeping herself out of the conversation. She knew what Kim had been thinking but was happy to see that her angel was relieved at the mention of a very fortunate mission; the young woman was all smiles now.
"I'm glad that your Uncle was Ok. I was in the right place at the right time."
Modest as always, Princess; Shego's inner voice was snide but her heart was proud.
"Wow, you've just got to come inside and meet my folks!" He nodded to both of them, apparently willing to accept Shego's unexplained presence at face value since the famous Kim Possible was involved.
"We… we really should be going." The taller woman spoke for the first time. To go inside that house again would be too much like walking on her grave. Not 'again', she reminded herself, I've never actually been inside that house. This is a different one, as far removed from the other one as you could possibly get.
"Aw, they'd be real sorry if they didn't get to talk to you!"
"We're on a mission."
"Really?" The prospect of this changed the young man's attitude from disappointment to excited curiosity. "What kind of mission?"
Kim had taken the hint.
"It's, uh…" She leaned forward and whispered conspiratorially. "It's a secret mission… a secret diplomatic mission… rebel plans and stuff, you know?" Shego opted to help by making a show of 'secretively' glancing around the property, obviously not wanting to be noticed in her inspection for 'the enemy'.
"Oh, then it's Ok, I guess." The open book of his features made it apparent that an idea had just struck him. "I won't tell anyone that you were here!"
It was Shego's turn to lean in close; she patted the boy firmly on the shoulder.
"Good man. That's the spirit." Kim turned away quickly to cover her mouth, desperate to not laugh out loud. The boy nodded and backed away a step, seemingly granting them leave, but he was not finished with his mysterious visitors yet.
"So, exactly why did you stop here, anyhow?"
Kim froze in the act of turning towards the car. How could they have explained that? A rhetorical question if there ever was one; the answer was easy but there was no way that this young man would have believed them. Why should he have? She was about to make another glib statement when her partner spared her the trouble.
"We, um… thought that we noticed some rusty spots on your barn roof."
Kim blanched; this was a memory that they each had recalled, in time. While not blatantly avoided, it was not an episode that they discussed any more. It was still painful but it was also mostly irrelevant these days; the petite redhead was shocked to hear her lover speak of it to this stranger.
"You did?" The boy turned towards the barn, scratching his head. "Really?"
"Yeah. You, uh, might want to put some tar up there… on the nail heads."
"Well, isn't that funny. My dad just put down some new tar up there last August." He shook his head in mild disbelief. Shego's voice grew stronger and more convincing as she continued.
"Tin, you know… the rust just stands out when the sun hits tin."
The boy took a second to consider this.
"Well, thanks, then." Puzzled but not one to pass up on friendly advice, he lifted a hand in a half-wave. "Tomorrow morning I'll hike a ladder inside and check it out first thing."
"Be careful of… any timbers that might have… gotten wet."
"From any rain that might have dripped down." Kim watched as Shego's jaw clenched and her throat worked in a swallow; the woman's voice never wavered. "Especially that big center support beam."
"Why that one?"
"It's the most important one!" Shego had finally relaxed enough to risk sounding exasperated. "You don't want to lose the whole barn if it's been quietly rotting away! Doy!"
Kim had to stifle a giggle.
"You've got a point there, ma'am."
Shego collected herself and did her best to fade away into thin air. Barring that, Kim spoke a few final pleasantries to this local farm boy and she bade him have a good evening. She smiled and grabbed a handful of Shego's mission jacket and gently tugged the tall woman behind her as they walked away from the little farmhouse and back to their car.
The sun had vanished just as quickly and silently as expected, and at some point during the conversation someone within the house had switched on the rear porch light. There was no sign of the boy by the time they had reached the car and Shego was the first to climb inside. Kim joined her and started the engine, pausing before she shifted into reverse to back out of the lane and return to the road.
"Nope. Not really."
"Nothing at all?"
"I had the same memories as you Kimmie, but didn't feel anything, if that's what you mean." Shego looked at the house and blinked, as if taking a last mental snapshot. "This was never our home."
"Can we go now?"
"Please and thank… damn it, Pumpkin, wipe that damn grin off your face before I do it for you!"
Kim did squelch the grin a little and they said their own silent goodbyes to this place that they had never known. Carefully backing out onto the country road, Kim shifted into a forward gear as smoothly as of she had been driving a stick all her life. She glanced at the clock on the dashboard and estimated that they would be home in less than fifteen minutes. On a hunch, Kim listened to her wife's breathing and heard the anticipated intake of air.
"ARE WE THERE YET?" Kim had guessed right; she was able to match Shego word for word. "Jinx! You owe me a soda!"
"I wonder if they'd still have a room for me on the HLS wing…"