Ninnik Nishukan

Friendship, part IV or; Pickled
After Shego had witnessed the true nature of Project Gherkin, she stomped off to her room, leaving Drakken and his silliness behind. Sure, his timing couldn't have been better as she'd been more than happy to get out of there quickly when she'd finally been returned to normal— but going all the way to Go City just because he wanted her to open a jar of pickles?


And here she'd thought he'd been weird when he'd been started using those three by five memory cards…!

Shego paused at her dresser, fiddling with a hairbrush distractedly.

So…now she had to deal with all the uncomfortable memories of having been good for a bout a week or so. It was like getting completely drunk at an office party or something and then having to hear about all the stupid things you did when returning to work the following Monday. Except you didn't completely change personality when you were drunk; you were still you, and had no excuse. Now she supposed she couldn't really be blamed, although that didn't really make it any less embarrassing.

Her experience of being a good guy who was friends with Kim Possible also left her feeling something else than annoyance, embarrassment and anger, however.

It was a wistful sort of feeling. She'd had a best friend, briefly, in high school.

Tracy. For about six months or so.

She hadn't been the sort of best friend you sat around telling your innermost secrets to or anything, but they'd had fun, and they'd been together almost every day. Tracy had been the sort of friend she could call up whenever she felt like it. Shego had felt like they'd had something in common.

When you were a crime-fighting super hero, you tended to miss out on a few things, and you tended to not look at some things the same way that other people did. Tracy had been in a similar position—of course, nothing could really compare, but still—Tracy had been the only person in her class who'd had a job at such a young age, because she'd lived alone with her father and had to pitch in.

So Tracy had known what it was like to have to deal with a responsibility that had been thrust upon her by circumstance instead of getting to start on her homework or just hang around with friends doing nothing, like a fourteen-year-old girl should get to do. Sure, one or two of the other kids had had a paper route or something, but none of them had had a job that was necessary in order to support their family.

Shego had never actually revealed her secret identity to her friend, but Shego had felt like Tracy had known it, somehow. If she hadn't quite guessed it, then she'd at least known that Shego, too, had unwanted responsibility that was making what was supposed to be her carefree years more difficult.

Shego hadn't thought about that girl in years, but now it had all come flooding back. She'd gone to the movies with Tracy, she'd been to coffee shops with her and she'd even slept over at her house once—everything she'd done the day before, with Kim Possible.

And Kimmie, while she was nothing like Shego personality-wise, was living much the same life that Shego herself had at that age— living the taxing life of a hero. She even had annoying twin brothers, for goodness sake!

Kimmie liked being a hero, however, while Shego hadn't.

When she'd been attitudinated, though, when she hadn't been herself, Shego had been able to relate to the young woman, and whatever it was that she'd been, she'd been having fun with Kim Possible. When filtered through her altered mind, Kim Possible hadn't seemed so bad. And now she remembered everything.

So…Kim Possible had turned out to be even more of a hero than usual, actually welcoming her nemesis into her house with open arms, just as she'd willingly worked with Dr. D the time when he'd been attitudinated. That was annoying to think about now that she was in her right mind again.

Still, it had been a thought provoking experience to be someone so completely different for a few days, even if the memories made her cringe now.

Shego hadn't had a female friend in years. All her life, she'd been surrounded by her brothers, and now, whenever she felt like being honest with herself, she had to admit that her only friend was Dr. Drakken. She had never minded much, as she'd always been a bit rough around the edges and liked hanging around guys, and had never been one of those people who felt the urge to pour out their thoughts and feelings all the time. She'd never been able to relate much to the girls in her class when she was younger, since she'd felt she'd had nothing in common with them, and later in life, she'd also gravitated towards hanging out with men, but sometimes…

She cared about Dr. D and she was comfortable around him— and judging by how he always told her everything, including things she didn't actually want to know, so was he—but there were times when she wanted to exclaim 'Men!'but didn't have anybody to say it to but herself. There were certain things you couldn't talk with guys about, certain things you'd only understand if you were a woman yourself…

Sometimes she wondered if Drakken ever thought the same thing about being a man. Maybe that was why he'd teamed up with Frugal Lucre?

And the thing about guys was that she was an attractive woman, and that there would always be some sort of underlying sexual tension—except between her and Dr. D, of course, she added quickly— which wasn't there with women, and that was one of the few things she missed about having female friends. And she couldn't talk about…spas and nails and fashion with Dr. D, and she couldn't talk about sex or other guys.

She could just imagine the look on his face if she were to ever bring up her sex life on her coffee break one day when he was working in the lab or something. She was sure he'd find some excuse to flee the lab in a one-man stampede.

Not that she actually even had a sex life these days, she reminded herself, sighing.

Being Drakken's sidekick was a demanding job— it felt more like a way of life than a job, really— but she felt as if even if she'd had more time off, she'd be hard pressed to find anyone worthwhile to spend time with. The few times she'd dated the last year, she'd been so bored she'd wanted to chew her own leg off. But the guy she dated the last time had actually been nice, he'd been attractive, and he'd tried his best to keep her interest during the date, so Shego had no idea why she'd been playing the old Anywhere But Here game repeatedly in her head all the while he'd been talking…

Again, there was that nagging sense of loneliness she'd felt lately. Every weekend when she wasn't at the lair.

Releasing an annoyed grunt, Shego snagged her nail file from her dresser and walked out into the living room.

She sat down opposite Dr. D at the table by the large monitor and started filing her nails; he looked up and met her gaze briefly across the table before he returned his attention to his jar of pickles. A second or two ticked by before a companionable silence descended on the two of them.

Shego sagged a little in her chair, sighing softly; coming here had given her the distinct, comforting sensation of slipping into a warm bath or a warm bed. Okay, so he was her employer and not a female friend she could tell things, but it didn't matter right then. She didn't need to say anything and she didn't need him to say anything, she just needed to be around somebody, to have some company without any chatter, and that was what she had. It was an almost tangible feeling.

She groaned inwardly when, about ten seconds later, the intruder alert went off.

Of course.

Drakken stared at Shego across the table when she pressed the button that released the hounds on intruders. As he studied her face, his ears barely even registered the distant screams of 'Stevie' as the guard dogs tore his tasteless suit to pieces.

"Who's Stevie?"

"Huh?"Shego seemed miles away all of a sudden. "Uh…just some guy."

The corners of Drakken's mouth turned down; she was obviously hiding something, and he didn't like it at all. "He seemed to be trying to woo you."

Shego made a face; she hated that word. "I went out on one date with the guy, okay?"

"How did he know where you lived?"He went on, even more suspiciously.

Shego shrugged. "How did your mother know? How did your little cell mate know? How do Kimmie and her loony boyfriend always know?"

Drakken grunted, crossing his arms over his chest; she had a point, but he wasn't going to admit to it. "Where were you this week, anyway?"

"Uh…"All of a sudden, Shego seemed to find her nails even more interesting than usual.

"I was worried, you know."He told her earnestly, trying a new approach.

Shego wrinkled her nose. "Worried? You just wanted someone to open your jar of pickles."

"Oh, please," Drakken dismissed her, "as if I couldn't just have had something else to eat."

"Well, why didn't you, then?"Shego challenged him.

"Uh, because…because no one defeats Dr. Drakken, that's why!"He insisted forcefully. "And especially not a jar of pickles!"

Shego blinked at him. "Oh, good grief..."

"So, um…where were you?"He tried again, looking at her expectantly.

"None of your business."She rejected him bluntly.



"I was…"He hesitated before soldiering on. "I thought maybe you'd left me again."

Shego paused in filing her nails, trying to hide a cringe; why did he always have to be so open about things like that? And that particular thing was probably her least favorite subject nowadays.

"I said I wouldn't."She mumbled, glancing away.

He cleared his throat awkwardly as it dawned on him that he really might've said too much. "Yes, well…"

"How did you even know where to find me, by the way?"Shego asked, trying to change the subject.

"Uh…well, if you must know," Drakken said with reluctance, looking mildly embarrassed. "I called up Possible's little computer boy again."

"Begging for favors from the enemy just to find me, huh?" She grinned. "You must've really had a craving for pickles."

His eyes narrowed and his mouth tightened; now she was just playing with him, having fun at his expense just because he'd admitted he hadn't been indifferent to her absence. In the world of Shego, there were so many things you weren't allowed to say. It was almost like being in high school again, where the slightest weakness would leave you open for verbal or even physical assaults.

"Yes."He said dryly, refusing to let her rile him up for once. "Can't get enough pickles."

She shook her head; the quirky grin she wore indicated that she was suppressing the urge to laugh.

Drakken sighed inwardly; here he'd tried to get her to tell out of her own accord what she'd been doing while she was gone, but no such luck. Really, he thought irritably, he was too nice to her sometimes. It looked like he'd be forced to leave her no excuses. There was no way she could talk herself out of this one. Besides, the picture had been burning a hole in his pocket, figuratively speaking, ever since he'd discovered it, and he was far too curious not to ask her.

The picture raised a multitude of questions, and he had to find out what in the world had been going on.

"Shego, um…I found this…"

Turning her head in a distracted manner at the sound of Dr. D's voice, Shego barely suppressed the gasp that threatened to escape her when she saw what was in his hand— it was supposed to have been ash by now! He wasn't supposed to see that!

"Care to explain?"Drakken prompted.

Her gaze flickered back and forth between his face and the picture in his hand. "Uh…"


An exasperated little noise left her mouth. "I haven't run off and joined the hero team, if that's what you—"

Drakken rolled his eyes. "Did I even say that? Now what's the reason for you posing with Kim Possible for a picture, looking like some kind of silly school girl?"

Shego groaned. She was too tired after everything to be getting into this now.

"Look, you obviously didn't want me to see this, but I did, and now I want some answers."He told her firmly, leaning forward and resting his elbow on the table. "So just spill the beans, because I'm not going to let this lie."

Again, Shego groaned as she flung and arm across her face. "Ugh, just…leave me alone."

Drakken thrummed his fingers on the table top for a while before he leaned back again. "Okay, if you want me to jump to my own conclusions, that's fine."He said carelessly.

Shego peered disbelievingly at him from under her arm. "Oh, come on!"

"All right…let's see…"Drakken started, pretending to look for inspiration before giving a theatrical, bright smile, "you decided to go out drinking last week on your day off, but before you knew it, it turned into a five day bender, and you ended up in a photo booth at the mall with Kim Possible, who thought she'd capture your giddy drunkenness on film and embarrass you with it later. The missing pictures also had the buffoon and the rat in them, and possibly a wide variety of false mustaches and silly hats."

Shego put her arm down again so she could send him a murderous look. "You're really enjoying this, aren't you?"

He only went on as if she hadn't even spoken."Or, wait, you decided to go undercover as a teacher at her school to do some research on how to get rid of her and her sidekick, and with your new hairstyle and outfit, Possible became a victim of the infamous Clark Kent Effect and couldn't recognize you anymore—"

"Gah! Okay, okay! I'll tell you!"She exclaimed, throwing her hands up in capitulation. "One of my old enemies attitudinated me! I was good this entire week, and I had to rely on the cheerleader to help me! Just like you that one time, remember?"

He blinked at her for a moment before he could speak. "Well…why didn't you call or something?"

Shego's sigh was impatient. "Doy, because I was good? Why would I call an evil villain?"

"Oh, right."Drakken said sheepishly. "But…I could have helped."

"How?"Shego asked, her voice broadcasting a blatant lack of faith.

"Well, you know…"he shrugged, ignoring her cynicism, "I could've attitudinated you back and stuff."

Her eyebrows shot up. "You could?"

"Sure."He nodded, "I have a reverse polarizer in my walk-in closet."

"You're kidding." She stared at him; if what he was saying was correct, there had been an opportunity to avoid the brunt of all her humiliating antics as Miss Go. The thought made her feel just a little faint, her stomach churning. She might've avoided it all…

"Why didn't you come looking for me sooner?"She almost screamed, but she already knew the answer. He'd thought she'd deliberately left, and hadn't been sure if she'd wanted to come back or not. Or maybe he'd just figured she'd needed some time off and would come back out of her own accord eventually. She did do that sometimes. It looked like her mercurial nature had come back to smack her in the face once again.

He shook his head. "Nope. You know, I thought…just in case. So I ordered one."

"Why haven't you just used it on Kim Possible or something?"She asked, trying to clear her head.

"Remember what happened the last time?"He reminded her pointedly, sending her a somewhat incredulous look. "And that was just the buffoon! An evil Kim Possible would be far too unpredictable. Can you honestly imagine her teaming up with us?"

"No, you're right. She'd probably just be our competition. She'd probably take over the world within a week and make us her slaves or something." She lifted an eyebrow, mildly impressed. "Wow, you actually used logic for once, Dr. D!"

"Your wit astounds me."

"Sarcasm is my shtick, Doc." Shego smirked before returning to her nail filing.

Drakken grunted softly, shrugging it off as he began channel flipping, not really paying attention to the programs, but rather remembering how that ridiculous man had looked, a bulky, ungraceful mess in a dweeb suit, brandishing flowers and a damn lute— who actually owned a lute these days?

He wouldn't be caught dead like that. Anybody with half a brain should be able to tell that Shego wasn't the kind of woman who'd fall for something that tasteless and awkward to look at, everybody should know she'd reject something like that without any mercy—

Then again, if she hadn't been herself, if she'd been like he'd been, good to the bone, mild and naïve in every way, there was no telling what kind of guys had appealed to her…not that he was entirely certain what kind of guys appealed to her now, either…though he was sure it had to be someone with a lot more style than that.

Shego interrupted him from his thoughts as she gave a little cough. "I didn't call you because…it doesn't work like that. When you're under the influence of the Attitudinator, you don't think about wanting to be evil again. Evil…is bad."

"I know."He heard himself say, a little absentminded. "I remember. I wanted to remain good."

"Yeah…I wanted to…be a respectful member of society. Be nice. Contribute, do my share…all that crap."She made a sour face, shuddering just a little. "Makes me kinda sick to think about just how…cheerful I was. How can anybody who knows anything about life be that positive?"

Drakken sent her a pensive look as something occurred to him. For once, Shego seemed like she needed to rant, if only just a little. How and when did they get to this point? Where she actually told him things? Where she actually answered questions about her personal life? As if he had some sort of right to know? And as if she cared what his response was? And why was he even asking her in the first place? That was none of his business, right?

He chewed at the inside of his cheek in frustration, deciding that he didn't care. It'd only bother him for the rest of the day if he didn't find out.

"Really, Shego…who was that guy?"He prodded, letting his curiosity overcome him.

Shego let out a heavy sigh. "Stevie— I mean, Steve Barkin— is Kim Possible's teacher."

"Kim Possible's teacher?"He blurted out, shocked.

Shego flinched with embarrassment. "No need to rub it in."

He exhaled loudly, leaning back; she didn't seem very happy about having dated this guy. "So…then I guess we won't be seeing Stevie around here again?"

"As if I would ever date the cheerleader's teacher— of all people— when I was in my right mind!"Shego scoffed, waving a dismissive hand. "The crew cut, the tacky suit and the so-called singing didn't make it any better, either."

"Yeah, I mean, I sing better than that…"Drakken muttered, fiddling with the lid of the pickle jar.

Shego sent him an odd look; why was he even bringing that up now? "Anybody sings better than him, Doc, don't flatter yourself."

"I'm just saying—"

"Whatever," Shego mumbled, putting her nail file down on the table with a dull slap, "you've made your point. You don't like Stevie. Well, he's not gonna come around again, okay?"

"Good." He said, changing his tune as he suddenly sounded pleased. "Pickle?"

She gave his abrupt, content grin a searching, bewildered frown before shrugging. "Um…sure. At least they're low fat."

Intimacy, Part IV or; Coffee Crisis
Without thinking about it, she leaned back, her temple touching his jaw line.

"Yeah, I've never heard of Cousin Larry either."She said.

Drakken grimaced. "Guess all the Possibles are just a big bunch of heroes, huh?"

She scoffed. "Why do you think I left my family?"

He leaned forward, resting the weight of his chin on her shoulder as he idly read the article. "Everybody thought they were perfect? Holier-than-thou attitudes all around?"

She raised an eyebrow, turning her head slightly to glance up at him. "Yeah." She said, somewhat intrigued despite herself. "Yeah, exactly. Like a family of moralistic clones."

"I can relate to that." He said, patting her other shoulder in sympathy. "Except for me and Eddie, my whole family's like that."


"Yes. Always trying to run other people's lives."

"Exactly," she said, brightening just slightly, relaxing as she began to get over the nagging thoughts of her family, her body sagging and her head leaning against his.

They'd been having a quiet period lately, Drakken taking some time to fix up the lair instead of actively pursuing a new evil plot— although she knew he had something cooking in the planning stages as she'd glimpsed plans and blue prints— and instead of being bored, she found herself actually enjoying the reprieve, doing things like catching up on some reading, shopping and occasionally going out to steal some stuff for him.

He'd been unusually mellow lately, and she'd apparently been affected by it. It wasn't often that he took breaks, and even if this was only a kind of semi-break, it was obviously doing him a bit of good, as he'd been a little out of it after being possessed by the pirate ghost of Blackeye Brown.

Drakken's eyes skimmed through the last of the article. "He was after the battle suit again?"

"Yeah, can you believe it? He sure has a one track mind. You'd think he'd get a new objective. Although that suit does look kind of handy…"

"Don't even think about it, Shego," He objected, shaking his head faintly. "I don't want to be some sort of copy cat. Especially not Dementor's copy cat…I mean, stealing from him is fine, but—"

She pouted a bit. "Yeah, but…I could use something like that."

"Meh. If you really want it, I could probably make you one."

"Really?" Her eyebrows shot up as she turned her head a little, her hair tickling the side of his face.

He made a small, inconvenienced-sounding grunt as he brushed her hair away, leaning a bit further down to peer at the battle suit. "Sure, shouldn't be too hard. It wouldn't be exactly the same of course, since I don't have the plans for it, but I think I could replicate a lot of the abilities I've heard about…"He said, running a finger pensively across the picture of the suit. "…maybe even add some new and different ones…" He murmured, lost in thought, his mind already racing with possibilities.

"Hmmm…" She turned her attention back to the newspaper, looking at the dork in the battle suit. "It wouldn't be white, then, right?"

He smirked, rolling his eyes before he followed her gaze back to the picture, withdrawing his arm. "Glad to hear you've got your priorities straight."

She glared at him out of the corner of her eye. "Well, I'm just saying— I mean, I'd be the one wearing it, so it matters to me." She said, stabbing at the picture of the battle suit with her index finger.

"Sure thing," he said, his chin lifting off of her shoulder as he straightened up again, "it could be any color you'd like. "He told her over his shoulder as he walked off, heading for the kitchen.

Shego watched him leave, suddenly frowning as her shoulder tingled after the weight of his head had been removed. It seemed almost as if it was only now that the warm pressure was gone from her shoulder that its earlier presence properly registered in her mind. Of course she'd noticed it, it was just that…she hadn't really thought

Shego stared at the wall as everything sunk in. Lately, she'd noticed that he'd been a bit more physical towards her; not much, and it all seemed casual, but it still wasn't nothing. It was still a change. Since when did she and the Doc become this comfortable around each other?

It had to have been since that foot massage, she realized. Ever since then, he'd begun being less squeamish about casual physical contact, but it'd been such a gradual transition that she hadn't really thought about it much until now. And now she had to wonder why it was that he didn't act so uptight anymore, why he was getting comfortable…

Sure, she'd always been comfortable, never worrying about him doing anything, knowing he'd keep his distance and respect her, but he'd never been very touchy feely, and now he'd just leaned on her as if she was just part of the chair or something.

A small frown appeared on her brow. Did he really just…not consider her as a woman at all? Was that really it? Did he just not even think that his actions were intimate?

Or was it just because things had been so mellow this past week at the lair? Was it because they were getting so used to each other again, even more than before?

That had been…quite intimate, when she thought about it. Because she couldn't imagine letting anyone else lean on her like that.

She tried to go through her mind in search of anybody—

Her brothers? No, she'd have just found it annoying and would have pushed them off.

Eddie? She'd have immediately blasted him through the front door.

Dr. D? Apparently…she'd just relax and lean back into him.

And that was…disturbing…

Drakken looked down; without even realizing it, he'd been making two cups of coffee. And it startled him, because he hadn't simply been so scatterbrained that he'd poured himself coffee twice; no, the second cup of coffee was for Shego. He could tell because while one of the coffees were black, just the way he liked it, he'd topped the other one off with skimmed milk, just the way Shego liked it.

He stood there staring dumbly at the two cups, still holding the carton of skimmed milk and trying to figure out what to do. Should he just give her the coffee, or would she act all surprised and ungrateful, delivering some sort of sarcastic remark and making him feel stupid? Would bringing her coffee be such an unusual event that he would be forced to explain himself? And what would be a reasonable excuse, then? Certainly not 'I made one by mistake because I was thinking about you'—

Wait…since when did he care, anyway? Since when did he make such a big deal out of things like this? It wasn't as if Shego was going to try to find some kind of Deeper Meaning behind him simply bringing her a cup of coffee— she'd probably only think that he was trying to butter her up before asking her some kind of big favour, like doing a job she didn't want to do.

And then he'd get annoyed at her accusation, and they'd bicker and she'd end up smug and he'd end up sulking somehow—

Grunting with annoyance, he walked over to the sink; he only hesitated for a few seconds before pouring her coffee out.

When he walked into the living room again, Shego turned to him and caught sight of the cup he was carrying; lifting her nose slightly, she sniffed the air.

"Is that coffee?"She asked, and he nodded. "Well, why didn't you get me some, too, while you were out there?"

Drakken spluttered. "B-but you didn't ask!"

She put her hand on her hip. "I didn't know you were making any. You should've asked me. It's only common courtesy."

Drakken's face turned red with frustration. He almost looked like he was choking on something. "But! You! And I— I made coffee! And black, and with— with the carton— but I thought— and then you! I thought you would— that we would— and then— the sink—"

Shego tilted her head at him, looking mildly concerned. "Dr. D, what are you talking about?"

Drakken's nostrils flared as he grunted, his eyes wild; here he'd wasted at least ten minutes just agonizing over whether to bring her coffee or not, and then she— she just—


Shego leaned back in her chair, eyes wide as the Doc bellowed his rage and threw his own coffee cup into the waste basket nearby, coffee and all, before stalking off to the kitchen, muttering angrily.

"Wow…wonder what his problem is."

Out in the kitchen, Drakken was panting a little as he leaned over the sink.

Blah, such a big fuss over nothing, he thought as he splashed some cold water on his face and dabbed at it with his sleeve.

He wasn't used to his head being so full of these kinds of things. Sure, he'd occasionally wondered about them and their confounding, frustrating, strange relationship, and he'd certainly wondered quite often what in the world Shego's deal was, but his mind would quickly be deterred by how he could best achieve global domination through science and technology. Now, however…he was having an…off period.

That was what it was. It was just a brief slump. He couldn't think of anything truly ingenious and sinister, but it was only a temporary setback.

These distracting thoughts would soon leave him again and he could get back to what was important, i.e. becoming the ruler of the world.

Drakken frowned as he poured some more coffee for them from the fresh pot and put some skimmed milk in her coffee again.

He'd never been all that good at interpersonal relationships, so he was having a hard time trying to figure out what was going on now. The last few days, he'd found himself being slightly less annoyed around Shego and more contemplative, but he could feel that it probably wouldn't last long. It was just a rare, quiet period, where he was thinking even more than usual— but about different things than what he normally thought about.

He didn't know why, but he found himself gravitating towards her these days. Usually, it was Shego who'd seek him out—unless he yelled for her to come do her job or if he wanted to show her something— and it was certainly Shego who initiated basically all the physical contact, if any. These days, however, whether it had even been consciously or not, he'd done some tentative, almost absent-minded things, like a pat on her shoulder, a hand on her arm— he'd even gone as far as poking her in the ribs to get her attention, once. Unlike him, however, who thought it was vexing when she poked and prodded him, Shego didn't seem to be bothered by it.

Was it just him? Did he just have too short a fuse? Nah, he knew she did those things to deliberately annoy him, so he was right to…well, be annoyed. He hadn't aimed to annoy her, however, so maybe that was what she'd picked up on. Maybe that was why she took it all in stride.

But now…when he'd leaned on her shoulder, it hadn't been just a brief touch to get her attention, so why hadn't she said anything? Why hadn't she been annoyed?

His frown reappeared on his brow as he halted in the doorway, holding their two cups of coffee; she was just preoccupied. That was the whole thing. She was just too busy thinking about other things for her to even notice the skating-on-the-knife-edge-of-what's-normal amount of physical contact they'd been sharing.

He didn't even know why he'd leaned over her like that— except to read the newspaper, of course, but he hadn't needed to actually lean on her to do that— but he knew even less why she hadn't tried to shrug him off of herself.

He felt like asking something, all of a sudden, something that might've given him some answers as to what she was thinking and what was happening.

Except he had no questions to ask. He couldn't come up with anything better than: 'Why is everything so weird?'

And that hardly even made sense to him, so it certainly wouldn't make any sense to her.

And then Shego would ask him what he meant, and then he'd have to explain himself, and he couldn't explain himself. He'd have to resort to some kind of 'You know…with…uhh…?' explanation, and that would get him nowhere.

He sighed as he walked into the room; he just wanted to be able to concentrate on coming up with new ideas for taking over the world again, that was all he asked. He didn't need all this silly stuff cluttering up his brilliant, creative mind.

When he gave her the coffee, she was just remembering that she hadn't asked him to put milk in hers…but then she looked down at her cup. He had put milk in it. Puzzled, she took a sip. And skimmed milk, too; just how she liked it.

And apparently, he knew that…?

Shego stared at the wall again as she slowly drank her coffee. They'd obviously been living together for far too long. They'd obviously been spending far too much time together. She'd picked up a lot of useless Drakken trivia over the years, but then he had a tendency to rant about himself a lot, even about private manners, and unlike him, she had a keen attention for details. She couldn't help it if she remembered things. But she, however, didn't talk about herself that much, and he was so inattentive anyway, so she'd always just assumed that he'd never noticed much about her in the way of personal preferences and such.

But now he'd actually taken note of how she took her coffee and had even remembered it for later…

It was such a small thing, really. Had it been anybody else, she wouldn't even have considered it. But since this was a megalomaniacal villain…well, they tended to be so wrapped up in themselves and their big dreams that they didn't usually notice things like that. And if they did, then they usually forgot, and Dr. D had always been a little absentminded.

She cleared her throat as she looked across the table at him, where he sat reading the newspaper, now that she was done with it.

"So, Doc…what's the next plan?"

For a while, the only answer was the faint rustle of the thin pages of the newspaper, which was obstructing her view of his face. Slowly, the newspaper lowered, his gaze traveling up to met hers. "I…don't actually have one."

For a second, Shego almost wondered if she'd misheard him. "…huh? You don't?"

"No."Drakken said flatly, his voice picking up a somewhat strained quality.

Shego looked at him uncertainly. It wasn't as if he hadn't experienced creative dry spells before, but something about him seemed a little different this time. He seemed kind of upset, but it didn't seem like simple melodrama. It wasn't crocodile tears or ranting; he was quiet, and he seemed as if he wasn't coming up with any ideas because his mind was simply being distracted by something else.

"Okay…?"She asked, a little taken aback. "So what're we gonna—"

"Don't— don't push me!"He barked, the anger in his loud voice partly masking the fact that he was obviously distraught. He was probably developing some sort of complex since he hadn't come up with any plans for a while, the way a writer might get frustrated over a severe writer's block. "It'll come to me, okay?"

"I'm sure it will," she said, grinning just a little.

He scowled at her, grumbling.

"By the way," she added, sipping at her coffee, "the henchmen forgot to water the plants again. They're turning all brown and stuff."

Drakken breathed a disgusted sigh. "Nnngh…I'm not surprised. They're always forgetting to do…some…thing…?"He turned to her, wide-eyed. "Did you say 'plants', Shego?"

She glanced up. "Um, yes?"

"Shego!" He exclaimed, laughing as he stood up. "You're brilliant!"

"What now?" Shego asked with a touch of apprehension; she'd heard this kind of speech before.

"See?" He said, looking excited as he paced back and forth in front of her. "This is why I need you around!"He went on, and, to her great surprise, reached out and ruffled her hair, grinning.

"Hey! Watch the hair!"She objected, smoothing it down again while glaring at him, looking a little flustered. "What's the big idea!"

"Exactly, Shego! It IS a big idea!" He announced with a flourish. "I have a new idea for a global domination plan!"

"…what, already?"


Author's note: Thanks again to my beta, Zoza, who likes skimmed milk in her coffee; a preference I gave Shego since she seems to be rather healthy. She also helped me come up with a name for Shego's old friend.

Somebody asked me in the reviews if this was actually going to be a romance or if it was just going to be an awkward friendship thing forever. Well, it's marked romance, so I guess it's a romance. It's all just a big build-up, baby!

I wrote this chapter as Drakken having lost inspiration because both these episode end tags had Drakken and Shego just kind of sitting around doing nothing. For the first one, after STG, it wasn't really strange, but in the other one, I just found it interesting that Drakken was acting so casual and mellow around Shego, doing things like leaning on her and talking about floor waxing instead of hatching a new evil plan.

And so I just elaborated.

Friendship, part IV or; Pickled is set during and after Stop Team Go,and Intimacy, Part IV or; Coffee Crisis is set after Larry's Birthday