This has nothing whatsoever to do with my Best Enemies stories. NOTHING. I wrote Hard Times in response to a captioned screencap at Slashhaven. It was a fast little knock-off. And I was amazed when it actually received a number of requests for a sequel. My better judgment said no sequel - better to leave things the way they were. This demonstrates how well I listen to my better judgment. It is a trait I share with the characters in this story. Both titles, Hard Times and Bleak House, are novels by Charles Dickens. The first title was a mistake; it should have been Bleak House, the title of a novel which deals with a hideously complex law suit. By happy accident that fits the second story better than the first. Should there be a need for a third story, and there will not be, the title would be Oliver Twist.

Sampson Brass is from The Old Curiosity Shop, by Dickens. The names of most other OCs are from Bleak House.

Boilerplate Disclaimer: The various characters from the Kim Possible series are all owned by Disney. Cheap shots at celebrities constitute fair usage.

Chapter 1 - If the Suit Doesn't Fit, You Must Acquit

"Any news on Shego," Kim asked hopefully.

"The same news I've had for the last five months," Wade responded.

"None?"

"Glad you could remember the answer. You know you're driving me crazy, Kim. You've been asking for information on Shego three or four times a week. I keep wondering, why?"

"I told you. She didn't sound very good the last time we talked. She even mentioned possibly committing suicide."

"And I ask you again, why do you care? I mean, I hate to think of anyone killing themself, but you two do nothing but fight. It's not like you had anything to do with it if she killed herself is there?"

"No, hehe," Kim's nervous laugh was totally lacking in sincerity. "Wade. You scan the whole world, don't you? If you can't find her, does that mean she's dead?"

"I can sort of scan the whole world, but you have to remember the world is a big place. Unless you give me a specific place to search I can't just find a particular person on the whole planet. I look for things like using cell phones or credit cards to give me a clue. She hasn't done any of that. I've found no evidence she's still alive."

"So, she's dead?"

Kim's voice sounded so stressed Wade took pity on her, "I didn't say that. If she's somewhere and not using credit cards or her cell phone - paying cash and sending snail mail - I wouldn't be able to track her. There are a lot of places where you can drop from electronic sight. Monkey Fist is good at it."

'"Okay," Kim said sadly. "I'll contact you in a day or so."

"The answer is going to be the same," Wade thought as he broke the link with her Kimmunicator.

Kim discovered Shego was still alive that evening. She was doing homework when the doorbell rang. A minute later her mom's voice came up the stairs, "Kim, you have company."

She recognized the man in uniform, "Deputy Bucket, what can I do for you?" Kim assumed he needed her testimony for some crime she had stopped.

"Sorry, Kim," he apologized as he pulled a thick envelope out of his back pocket, "I'm here to serve you with notice."

Kim stared at the envelope, not sure what was happening, as the officer tipped his hat to Kim's mother and left.

"What was that all about," James Possible called from the living room.

"Kim was just served with some legal papers."

"What did you say?" he asked as he came into the hallway.

"I'm being sued or something, Dad." The three of them headed into the kitchen, where Kim took a knife from a drawer and slit open the top of the envelope. She took out the papers and started to read, she suddenly dropped the legal documents and stared ahead blankly.

"Kim? Kimmie-cub?" her dad said. He waved his hand in front of her face, but it elicited no response.

Kim's mother picked up the papers and began reading, "Oh, James, this is ridiculous!"

"What's ridiculous, dear?"

"Kim is named in a paternity suit! Shego is demanding child support when her baby is born."

"WHAT?"

"I'm just reading the legal papers. This is some sort of nuisance suit. I can't believe the courts would even bother to let such a claim be filed."

James breathed a little sigh of relief, "You're right. The court won't even bother with it." He turned to his daughter, "Whatever possessed her to even file an empty claim like that?" Kim was still not responding. "Kim? Kim?" He took her by the arm and gently shook it. "Kim? Do you hear me?"

She snapped to attention, "Huh, sorry, what did you say?"

"I asked if you think Shego is losing her mind. Naming you in a paternity suit? I mean; it's ridiculous."

"There is a chance it's true."

"WHAT?" her mother and father said together.

"Do you remember when I went over to China about seven months ago?"

"Yes," her father answered.

"Well, I ended up sleeping with Shego."

"Babies don't happen from people sleeping together," her mother reminded her.

Kim was blushing furiously, "Okay, we did more than sleep. We had sex, and I didn't take any precautions…"

Her mother still looked blank, but angry, "Let me get this straight, leaving aside the fact you are both women and therefore it is impossible for one of you to end up pregnant, YOU HAD UNPROTECTED SEX WITH YOUR WORST ENEMY?"

"It's not my fault. She told me it was safe-"

"YOU HAD UNPROTECTED SEX WITH YOUR WORST ENEMY BECAUSE SHE TOLD YOU IT WAS SAFE?"

"Mom, you're hyperventilating."

"JAMES! YOU TALK WITH HER!" Kim's mother stalked out of the kitchen.

"Kimmie?"

"It's a long story, Dad. See, at this training ground in China there are magical springs-"

"Magical springs?"

"The water kind of springs, not the Slinky™ kind. Anyway, I fell in one…

Halfway through the story her father rested his face in his hands.

"So you're telling me that… that you might be the father of Shego's baby?"

"I don't know Dad… It's so… I'm not even sure she is pregnant.

"Paternity test," he muttered, "She'll have to submit to a paternity test." He'd never thought Kim would take the family motto so seriously.

"Can I finish the story?"

"Sure," he said in a hollow voice, "any chance of a happy ending?"