Summary: What do you need? Different aspects of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs applied to Drakken and Shego's daily lives in no particular order. Add a spoonful of uncomfortable silences, and we're good to go.
Respect, part VI and Morality, part IV
The sharp sound of the slammed door echoed loudly in the high-ceilinged lab of the new jungle lair and faded gradually away.
For a moment, Drakken could only stand there, gaping at the door.
Okay…so that probably hadn't been the most delicate way in which to handle the situation.
On a scale of unwise actions, he'd probably put it somewhere between unwittingly asking his recently overweight Cousin Myra whether she was pregnant at the last family reunion, and forgetting that he'd staged a real meltdown of the train engines during the big mind control serum heist.
Groaning, he dragged his hands down his face. This week had been far too stressful.
What was he supposed to do now? Just— what, wait until she came back? What if she didn't? Should he go after her? Or should he wait until she'd calmed down?
Still, he thought, all the fretting getting on his nerves, how was I supposed to know— why was she so mad, anyway? How did she expect me to react when she was acting so strange? Of course I'm going to be curious about it, of course I'm going to ask— she's just unreasonable, that's what she is!
Gritting his teeth, Drakken kicked the side of the couch, causing it to skid a good few yards across the floor with a high-pitched, vexing scraping noise. Glaring at the shampoo commercial playing on the TV, which featured a young woman tossing her long, chestnut-colored, glossy curls around in that certain way that nobody in real life actually did, he clicked the TV off with the remote, paused, and then threw the remote at the screen, just for good measure. The remote control, however, seemed to possess no sense of dramatics, as it only hit the screen with a wholly unsatisfying little 'thunk' and plopped to the floor with an even less impressive 'bonk'.
Abandoning the prospect of property damage as a means to vent his frustrations, he started pacing instead.
Okay, so maybe he hadn't handled things that well, but at least he'd tried— she'd just bolted! Well, if that's the way she wanted to play it, then she could just sit wherever she was and sulk for a month for all he cared! It'd give him some time to do— to do important things! Yes!
She could just sit there and— and sulk—
Except sulking wasn't really Shego's thing, was it?
What might she be doing instead? What if she was— what if he'd just—
He froze, swallowing.
After a short moment of uncomfortable contemplation, he left.
The fact that she'd taken the hover car and he had to take a boat only made him angrier and even more intent on finding her, but at least the fact that she was using the hover car meant that he'd be able to track her destination…
…even if that destination, Aruba, didn't exactly bring back happy memories. It'd been months since they'd last visited it, and he still occasionally remembered the almost hopeless atmosphere and the staggering amount of strained silences they'd somehow managed to cram into such a tiny apartment.
Still, this wouldn't be like the last time— it just wouldn't. There were no betrayals, no real humiliation, no ditching each other for other villains— so there would be no frightened glances, no tension pressing down on them, no— no emotional pain— just a simple argument in which they straightened out whatever misunderstanding that had caused her from running off, and then they'd go home. Maybe have some pie.
But not before he'd had his say. He'd give her a real piece of his mind! She couldn't just—
Angrier, more worried— well, whatever all this had made him, she was going to hear it!
The captain was quite mystified when the boat suddenly sped up when they were about an hour or two away from Aruba.
Apparently, somebody had tampered with the engines. Considering they were in the business of ferrying the many super villains living in the Caribbean between various islands or from their islands and to the mainland and back, though, this wasn't that unusual an occurrence. Still, it didn't do to let people think they were easy to mess around with. Pigro's Pizza, the captain's brother's business, which also specialized in villains, hadn't survived by being soft on wise guys.
When they stopped and went to try to find out who'd done it, just outside the coast, they discovered that one of the life boats had been stolen. They were too late.
What little patience had still remained within Drakken had finally given out.
The next morning, Shego was walking out of the bathroom in jeans and a black, form-fitting T-shirt, toweling off her wet hair and humming quietly to herself in an aimless sort of way when somebody cleared their throat loudly, only a few feet away from her.
In what was supposed to be a locked, empty apartment.
She skidded to a halt, clutching her chest as she gasped, pushing the towel out of her vision. "Huh? D…Dr. D?" Immediately, her own behavior angered her— gasping like some bad damsel-in-distress in a fifties horror flick? What was wrong with her? "What are you doing here?" She snapped, hastily combing through her damp, tangled hair with her fingers before flipping it out of her face.
He frowned at her. "I could ask you the same thing, Shego! Could you just— stay in one place for longer than five minutes?"
"How'd you get here?" She retorted, refusing to be taken off guard again.
"With some difficulty," he growled. "Next time, I'd appreciate it if you'd bear in mind that it's my hover car, and that you can't just—"
Tossing the wet towel over the back of a chair, she crossed her arms over her chest, her lips tightening. "Look, just cut to the chase— what do you want?"
His face took on a deeply pissed off expression, his hands balling into fists. "Well, what do you think?" He snarled. "Here you— you insult me and you just take off and, and—"
"You were getting in my face!" She sneered, her crossed arms unfurling to gesture accusingly at him. "That's what normal people do when other people just won't take a hint and leave them the hell alone for a second! They get out of there! With a nagging mother like yours, you of all people should be able to recognize it when people need a little space," she added reproachfully, shooting him a sideways glare. "What did you think was gonna happen when you just kept pushing me?"
Drakken hesitated, his fists going slack. "But um…did you…are you…" He looked hurt for a second before his expression hardened. "Right! I guess I'd better just take a hike, then! I'm sure you don't want to listen to any more of my whining!" He hissed poisonously, reaching for the doorknob to leave.
Shego's sigh was loud and explosive, and it felt to her like an attempt to release the sort of anger that it had taken years to accumulate. "Gah! You idiot, I didn't mean— I was obviously just upse— angry! Why don't you just get over it?" She snapped."I don't have the patience to nurture your fragile ego all the time!"
He turned abruptly. "Fine! Why don't you just go work for somebody with— with a better ego, then?" He snapped back. "Go on, LEAVE! AGAIN!"
She drew a deep breath. "I DON'T WANT TO!" She yelled, at the top of her lungs. Outdoing Dr. Drakken in volume took some effort.
He stared at her, then, his expression unreadable.
Shego gave a loud, impatient scoff. "Jeez, Dr. D! That again? I mean, seriously! You say that one more time and you're gonna sound like a broken record, you know that? After Warmonga, I said I wasn't gonna leave again, and I haven't, have I? I've stayed with you ever since!"
She'd already tried it several times, and it never went any better than when she stayed, so she wasn't about to leave again. Oh, she'd take a vacation once in a while so she wouldn't go insane, but when it came to actually leaving him, in the permanent sense— not so much. What did she have to do to make him get that? Okay, so she'd been angry when she'd left this time, but she'd said she'd be back, hadn't she?
He looked uncertain. "Well, no, you haven't, but…what's this, then?"
A loud, disgusted groan left her. "I told you, I just needed a break! You are so still holding a grudge!"
He bristled. "Well, being left to rot in jail isn't exactly something you forget very easily, is it?"
Shego scrubbed at her face with her hands in frustration. "Ugh! Why are you bringing that up now? You don't see me still holding a grudge over the time you let your new sidekick beat me up, do you? And held me captive like I was some sort of— of hero? And gloated?"
Drakken winced; and then there was that thing again. He didn't like to be reminded of that. Suddenly, panic bobbed in his stomach like a piece of a rotting corpse resurfacing in a pond as he wondered if she might bring up the time he'd used mind control on her for his own amusement and megalomaniac motives— and where the heck did that come from? That was over! Done! Past! Nothing he needed to be thinking about when he was trying to win an argument!
"I was mad at you, Shego!" He blurted, trying to regain his footing. And he had been, he reminded himself. Mad and hurt— although the mad part was easier to think about.
Her hand batted away a damp strand of hair that had fallen across her eye, and she sounded even more impatient when she replied. "Okay, okay, so it was selfish of me to leave you in jail! I get it already! But I was sick of you, sick of failing all the time, and I wanted to go and try to do my own thing! It was a mistake!" Her hands went to her hips in challenge. "You know, a mistake? Those things you make on a weekly basis? Happy now?"
"No!" He barked.
Shego scowled, staring him straight in the eye. "Do you really mean you're going to keep reminding me of that for the rest of my life? Because if that's how it's going to be, maybe I should leave!"
Again, Drakken felt like he was stumbling, losing conviction— he hated guilt and he hated being wrong— but he still had reserves of vexed anger left and wasn't about to let them go to waste. "Oh, yes, that's really convenient, isn't it? Now you have a good excuse to—"
"Dr. D, are you never gonna let this go?" She demanded, then, her voice cracking just a little. "'Cause, y'know, me? Again with the not holding of any grudges here!"
He stared at her. She wasn't about to cry, nothing like that, but she was upset. He hadn't known—
Shego groaned, pinching the bridge of her nose. "Look, when I left you in jail, at least you were more or less safe. I didn't think anything would happen to you. You've been in jail plenty of times before, Doc." Her gaze darted up to lock briefly with his, searching. "But up there...you really think I'd leave you to die?"
He blinked at her. He'd never really seen her act quite like this before; as if she actually kind of wanted him to trust her. "Yes—" He noticed the way she was staring at him, then, and tried to correct himself. "I mean, no— I mean, I don't know—" Finally, he just snapped his mouth shut before it could get even worse.
She fell quiet for a second or two, her lips tightening with something almost like hurt, and her voice was cold when she spoke. "Dr. D, I have a degree in Child Development, but you don't even need Psych 101 to recognize a frickin' Freudian slip, 'kay?"
Shuffling his feet a little, Drakken averted his eyes. This conversation was getting increasingly difficult. Shouting was so much easier. "Shego, I don't think you realize just how...you haven't exactly gone out of your way to appear as a trustworthy, loyal sidekick to me over the years, have you?" He asked, appealing to the wall next to him instead of looking at her. "You've seemed impertinent, rude, unmotivated, overbearing— I've always had the impression that you were so indifferent, like you seemed to hang around just because you didn't have anything better to do or something. Or for the money. Or just because you like to make fun of me."
Shego frowned. Some of that was true, unfortunately. But on the other hand... "Yeah? And do you have any idea how you've seemed to me?"
"No, but I'm sure you'll be happy to let me know," he grouched.
Shego remembered thinking, when he was avoiding her after the whole prison break and Warmonga mess, that at least he usually never left her, that the one time he had left her was out of the ordinary, but she'd been wrestling with unfamiliar feelings of guilt, and it hadn't occurred to her until later to ask herself…
What was worse? Disappointing somebody by leaving them or disappointing somebody while staying?
She still didn't know. All she knew was that sometimes he acted in ways that would've made other sidekicks with at least half a brain quit their jobs after the first couple of weeks. All she knew was that sometimes, the only thing that kept them both sane was the very teasing that vexed him so much.
And she was getting more than ready to spill the beans.
"You've seemed arrogant, rash, obsessed, immature, inconsiderate and unable to listen to advice. You've always seemed to live in your own world, ignoring the rest of it because, hey, you're 'a genius'! And as long as we're taking stock here— you've also tended to brush me off as if my opinion just doesn't matter," she listed, and he'd never heard her sound that serious while insulting him. There was no trace of teasing. "Does that sound like it'd motivate somebody to be a good sidekick?" She added, and unfortunately, the question wasn't quite rhetorical.
Drakken frowned back at her, finding himself unable to object too much; a lot of those things had struck too close to home. "So what? I've gotten better, haven't I?" He demanded, trying not to pout.
She sent him a matter-of-fact kind of look. "Not really. A little, maybe."
He considered her for a second. "You, too— about the same," he said eventually, unable to keep the slightly petty tone out of his voice.
Shego sighed. "Well, yay for us. Go Team Drakken. Extremely marginal improvement over the course of almost five years."
Drakken brightened a bit at that. "Team Drakken? You know, I sort of like the sound of that. Do you think we could—"
"No! It's bad enough I have to bowl on a team called The Drakkenites!" Shego objected, glaring.
"Hey, it's not like I have to ask you, anyway! I'm the boss, and if I want us to be called—" Drakken cut himself off when he caught the dubious look in her eyes. "Uh…right. Extremely marginal improvement."
It was rather perturbing how much the opinion of his sidekick mattered sometimes, when he was the one in charge and it really shouldn't. It hadn't quite occurred to him before now that it might be because she wasn't 'just the sidekick'. Maybe something needed to be done so he wouldn't forget that again.
"That's right," Shego said, nodding sagely.
Drakken was beginning to fret a little now, getting defensive. "But it's not all bad, is it? I mean, lately…lately, it's been…"
"What? Awkward? And that's an improvement how exactly?" Shego said dryly, before immediately regretting she'd even opened her mouth. Acknowledging the awkwardness would of course only lead to more of the same.
Great. Just great.
Drakken looked pale at that, but nevertheless didn't seem like he was about to drop the subject; that good ol' persistence streak acting up as always. It just figured.
"Well, yes, but I mean…lately, I've tried to…and you've tried…uhm, don't you think maybe it's been at least a little…" He fumbled for a word— nicer? Less hostile? More open? More caring?— but found nothing that really felt appropriate, the words sticking in his mouth like too much cotton candy, sharp and too sweet.
As he watched her solemn face and tried to figure out what to say, how to explain himself, it slowly dawned on him how he felt. He didn't quite know how he felt about how he felt, but he did have a feeling it needed to be said. So he went ahead to another, related subject, which wouldn't be any less complicated, but at least wouldn't require him to think up any fitting adjectives.
"Listen, I…" He began haltingly, uncomfortable under the expectant eyes, his skin suddenly feeling itchy and too tight for his face, as if his cranium was very slowly growing larger. For a second, he got sidetracked, wondering if this was indeed possible, if such a medical condition actually existed at all, or whether he could use it for evil somehow, but the sound of Shego's shoes shifting anxiously against the floor snapped him out of it.
"Maybe it's not…maybe I was a little…concerned you might not come get me, but maybe…" His face took on a tortured expression for a moment as he struggled with the words. "But maybe I had that concern because I was worried I might not have given you any real reasons to be there for me! Okay?" The sentence was delivered with a hurried force, much like a band aid being ripped from a wound.
There was a long stretch of silence, then, and as it went on, Drakken began to think she might just leave. Not forever, but at least for an afternoon, and somehow, even if this whole conversation was exceedingly disconcerting, that would be almost just as bad.
Shego blinked, briefly stunned at his admission. She hadn't quite believed he'd been capable of coming to such a conclusion on his own, let alone actually saying it. "Uh, you mind running that by me again?"
Drakken let out a touchy grunt. "You heard me!"
Her hand went to her hip, the corner of her mouth quirking. "I mean, I've heard of drive-by shootings…but drive-by apologies?"
"Stop it, Shego! It's not easy for me to— to admit to things!" His face twisted, like the word was sour milk in his mouth. "You of all people should know that! I mean, you are one!"
She sent him a mildly nonplussed kind of look. "One what?"
"A villain!" He exclaimed, gesturing undecidedly as if trying to illustrate his point. "We…we're proud! You know the sort of people this business attracts!"
Oh, she knew exactly— high on the egotism, pride and unrealistic aspirations and low on the empathy, patience and self-insight— though he'd have probably put it in much grander terms.
Shego smirked. "I'd admit to that, but on account of being a villain, I just can't."
When he expected her to go on teasing, however, she simply shrugged, eyes evasive. "Hey, well…I could pretend not to be a villain for five seconds and remind you that there was probably also that whole issue of me not giving you that many reasons to expect me to be there."
Her reluctant compromise made Drakken stare at her in astonishment for a moment before his shoulders slumped again at the whole situation. "I hate vicious cycles," he grumbled.
"And marginal improvement," she replied, rolling her eyes. "Eh, not like we're ever gonna be up for sainthood, anyway. If we're not trying to strangle each other on a daily basis, that oughtta be pretty good by villain standards already, right?"
As he listened to her cynical, but for the most part true words, he got an urge to voice an idea that had started poking around in his brain during this conversation and just didn't seem to want to let go, even while struggling to keep afloat in the thick, sludgy river of self-centered madman creativity.
"Um, Shego, about the whole villain dynamic thing...I've been thinking…" Okay, so I've been thinking for about five minutes, but it still counts, he added to himself, and he realized this had really been a long time coming, anyway. "…and I think maybe it's time I make you partner," he finished, exhaling heavily after he'd managed to say it; it sort of reminded him of the moment when he'd finally been allowed to step back off stage after his first school recital as a child.
This new proposition completely threw her, and she made no effort to hide it. "Huh?"
Again, he seemed to grow jittery under her stare, and when he spoke, the words came out with some difficulty. "Yes, you know…you've been— well, more loyal than a villain can expect another villain to be, really— and certainly more helpful, more valuable to me and my business— and so I think a promotion is in order."
"And what would this entail?" She asked, with a good helping of her usual healthy skepticism.
What was he thinking, anyway, Shego wondered. So he wanted her to be his partner, okay, not bad— but a partner in what? Crime? Legitimate research? Speaking tours? Driving an ice cream truck? What? This was Dr. Drakken here— it could be anything! Of course, that was part of why he kept life from getting boring, but despite all the stupid things she'd done for him over the years, she still had some sense of self-respect and self-preservation left, and wasn't going to agree until she knew the deal.
Drakken scratched his neck. "Well, we'll work that out later…draw up a whole new contract for you, new responsibilities and rights and so on...and you won't be referred to as 'the sidekick' again."
"Well..." She pursed her lips, looking a bit undecided. What was he really offering here? Would there even be any genuine changes or would it just be fancy words on a page?
It appeared as if she needed more, and before he knew it, he was blurting out that 'more'. "I don't really know exactly what we'd be doing from now on, business-wise, but whatever it is, we'd be...uh, well…um…" He cleared his throat, not wanting to say anything that could be even remotely perceived as mushy; knowing that was the kind of path he was headed down if he continued talking.
Shego had quickly picked up on the respect and the hope that was present in those unspoken words, though. "Oh," she said simply, eyes widening a tad. He'd managed to surprise her. It seemed like, if only it was the promise that he'd try, he intended to appreciate her more somehow. And apparently, she was keeping her job, her promotion— even if he didn't know what they'd be doing. It seemed like he'd make them a job if he didn't have one, just to be sure they'd stick together.
Shego wasn't quite sure how she felt about that. Or the fact that she couldn't quite bring herself to say no even though she still didn't know exactly what she was getting into.
He gave a delicate cough. "So…so what do you say?"
Her eyebrow arched. "Do I get to give myself a raise?"
"I pay myself less than I pay you, Shego," he said, sending her a stern look.
"Okay, whatever," Shego chuckled briefly; she had the feeling things like monetary details would be brought up again longer down the road, anyway. "But I bet you're also counting on me to bring a pretty decent chunk of moolah to the table if I'm a partner, huh?" She added slyly.
Drakken flashed her a sheepish grin. "Well, it'd only be fair—"
A smile tugged briefly at the side of her mouth. "Fine by me, but if it's my money we're investing, too, that also means I get my say when we're figuring out what to spend it on."
He squirmed a little, a wretched frown turning up on his face as his megalomaniac ego rebelled for a second. "Nnnngghh—!"
Both her eyebrows rose quizzically. "It'd only be fair, right?"
He deflated. "Very well."
Shego only grinned at his grumpy expression until he had to roll his eyes to avoid grinning back.
And so, the uneasy atmosphere had started developing hairline cracks, and it prompted him, against all common sense, to take the conversation even further.
"Shego, um...about the park in Caracas..."
She froze. "What?"
"I mean, about what Kim Possible said..." He laughed a bit, highly uncomfortable. "That was just...she'd just misinterpreted something, right?"
All of a sudden, Shego found herself completely unable to act like her normally composed self, so she said nothing at all. Her gaze fell to the floor as she wrung her hands a little.
Drakken gulped. "Oh."
"I...I...wasn't...I mean, I'm not...I can't...ugh." Shego fell silent again, biting her lip in frustration. Just when she'd thought they were out of the woods, too! She should've known he wouldn't let it go. How could she have let herself get so blindsided by this?
"You really were…jealous?" He ventured with caution. "I mean...really?" He'd known she'd been jealous, but he'd thought she'd only been jealous as a sidekick, not as— well, whatever it was. Something else.
Shego writhed beneath his stare, letting out a small, choked sound. Everybody she'd ever been involved with at all had known better than to put her on the spot like that. Of course, they'd never really had much to put her on the spot with— so how the heck had he, when they weren't even involved?
He blinked. "Shego, she was a nine foot tall alien, why would you think that I'd—"
"Hey, don't look at me!" She exclaimed accusingly, scowling. "You're the one who said she was better than me!"
She turned her face away, a small, disgusted sound escaping her. "Look, just forget this. It's stupid." What did he want from her, anyway? A written explanation in five copies? Couldn't he just stop asking her about it? Hadn't he learned his lesson about pushing her already? And it wasn't as if he'd never been jeal—
Ugh. So not going there.
He frowned in confusion. "Forget it?"
She nodded, voice determined and tight. "Forget it."
He looked at her for a moment, and when he spoke, it was hesitatingly. "I'm not...I wasn't attracted to her, Shego," he said, shaking his head. "To tell the truth, she sort of just frightened me," he added with a sheepish look. He wasn't entirely sure what his intentions were, why he was telling her this, but he just had the feeling he needed to say it.
"Whatever," she cleared her throat, trying not to consider too closely the nature of the conversation they were having. The self-consciousness intensified as she felt his searching eyes on her face, and she turned away from him, walking over to the tiny dresser in the corner of the room to pick up her hairbrush. For a moment, she was able to concentrate on getting the tangles out of her damp hair, the almost zen-like repetitiveness of the brushing calming her just a little.
It didn't take long before she was pulled out of it, though.
"Shego...?" Drakken tried again, and she heard him take a small step towards her.
"Hmm?" She muttered vaguely, suppressing the urge to shout.
He stared at her for a long while, trying to think of something more to say. Finally, he just frowned. "Let's go back, okay?"
"Why, you got a roast in the oven?" She said, attempting to bring a bit of levity to the situation.
"Something like that," Drakken mumbled. This place was giving him a serious case of the heebie jeebies. It was just full of awkward memories, and he wanted to leave.
She shrugged. "Okay, just lemme get my stuff," she said, disappearing into the small bedroom with her hairbrush.
Drakken's stomach flopped painfully when Shego came out of the bedroom with a big overnight bag and he wondered exactly how long this 'break' of hers might've ended up being if he hadn't gone after her.
As a villain, he was never really inclined to be willing to take the blame for much at all, but now it looked like he really should've given her some space.
Trying to look like he hadn't even noticed, he ushered her out of the dreaded apartment, turning off the lights and locking the door behind them.
Intimacy, part X and Acceptance of Facts, part II
For some reason, Drakken was spending the evening tearing up the lair. His preferred method of searching for misplaced items had always been to make the place even messier so it'd only further complicate his search, and while it could be frustrating in its stupidity if you were involved in the search with him, it could be pretty entertaining to look at if you weren't.
Idly munching on a small bag of nuts and dried fruits, Shego leaned on the door frame while she watched the show, grinning as he upended the couch and practically threw his favourite comfy chair across the room.
Things were looking brighter again.
They'd made up— kinda, sorta— things seemed to be approaching what passed for normal between them again, and best of all, their relatives were still gone and she'd just discovered they'd stocked the pantry before they'd left.
Mama Lipsky had even left them her Chocolate Blackout Cake recipe, but one look at the ingredients— which had included things like dark chocolate, milk chocolate, sugar, butter, honey, powdered sugar, whole ground coffee beans and even rum; yikes— immediately put her in mind of Drakken's gluttonous behavior after the failed Hank's Gourmet Cupcakes scheme, and she incinerated the note before he could find it. Besides, she'd had the unsettling suspicion that the Lipsky matriarch had expected her to bake it— and yeah, never gonna happen.
Drakken would probably spend tomorrow complaining about a stomach ache once he found the cookies his mother had left and thoughtlessly gorged himself on them as usual, anyway, but still— compared to the last few days they'd had, a bit of garden variety whining would seem like a holiday.
Speaking of which— since he didn't appear to have any new evil schemes on his agenda, that'd probably give her a few days off. Humming quietly to herself, she rummaged around in her bag of healthy snacks as she blissfully imagined how she'd spend the next few days.
Doing a whole lot of nothing, for one thing, she thought firmly to herself, contented. Whatever this thing between them was, it seemed to have been put on the backburner out of some sort of silent, mutual consent, and if she only got a bit of rest first, she was sure she could deal with it later.
Somehow, she thought, frowning a bit.
Finally, Drakken straightened up, grumbling, before he spun on his heel. "Shego! I can't find anything around here anymore!"
"What now?" She drawled, popping a cashew nut into her mouth.
"Have you seen my little black appointment book? You know? About this big?" He demanded, indicating its shape and size with his hands.
"Whatcha need it for?" She shot back lazily, chewing.
"All those stupid TV shows have started calling me again!" Drakken exclaimed, sounding stressed. "They want to know when I'm available!"
Her eyebrow cocked; so that's who'd called earlier, thankfully distracting them from yet another tension-filled return to the lair. "You're really doing those?"
"Well, I have to at least show up on Lee Jayno! For mother's sake!" Drakken said defensively, shooting her a suspicious look. "It's not like I want to, but—"
"Oh yeah, 'cause you've never craved fame or recognition," Shego taunted, smirking.
"Just tell me where the blasted book is!" Drakken snapped, his cheeks coloring a bit.
She scratched her chin, considering. "I dunno, have you checked your room?"
He scoffed. "Of course!"
She shrugged. "Dunno, then."
Drakken threw his hands up. "Gah, you and your meddling brothers! They've completely turned this place upside down!"
Shego snorted. "Right, right…'cause your Cousin, your former cell mate and your mother just spent their time here enjoying a quiet spot of crochet in the corner."
"Oh, just...cut the wisecracks and help me look!" Drakken complained, digging into the couch cushions once more, in case he'd missed anything.
Shaking her head, Shego walked off to look for the book, if only because it might shut him up.
Drakken was crawling on his hands and knees under his lab table when he heard her calling from somewhere in the lair.
Startled, he attempted to stand straight up and naturally banged his head on the underside of the table. Cursing and wincing, he crawled back out from under the table and got to his feet. "What, Shego?" He called back.
"I found it," Shego repeated, idly thumbing through the book to get to today's date, clucking her tongue at the hastily scribbled, messy handwriting that covered each page and unable to not be amused by the fact that her life so far had included accompanying her boss to such things as 'getting the death ray cleaned', 'meeting with the informants at the docks at five a.m. regarding password codes to secret government lab' and 'feeding the piranhas of doom'.
She had the feeling that her new life with him as her partner instead of her boss would somehow still manage to include such things. Bizarreness had a tendency to follow her around.
There was the sound of footsteps approaching as Drakken made his way upstairs. "You found it? Where?"
She rolled her eyes. "In a box of cereal in the kitchen— and why am I not surprised? I swear, you are so turning into The Absent-minded Professor. Now here's your stupid—" She blinked, looking down at a page in the book. "Um, Doc...?"
"What?" Drakken asked snippily, peeved over the 'absent-minded' jab.
Shego swallowed. "What's...what's this?"
"What's what?" He stomped towards her, leaning over her shoulder to see. "Tuesday," he read, "remember to sit down and mull over...suppressed feelings...?" His voice dropped in volume at the last part, and he gulped as his eyes travelled up to meet hers. Turning a bright shade of maroon, he snatched the book away from her hands before he took a step backwards.
Oh, snap, he thought, I'd forgotten about that...!
In a panicked and very ill-advised move, he flung the book out the window; as if that would somehow reverse time and make it so that she'd never read those embarrassing words.
There was a muffled splash as it hit the surface of the small river outside.
Out of sight, out of mind, right? He thought desperately, breaking into a cold sweat.
"Um…" Shego began, giving him the kind of look he'd been on the receiving end of plenty of times before; the one that told him that, in her eyes, he was not only completely nuts but was also moving steadily towards bananas. Except she'd never looked this unsure before. Usually she just looked like he was sorely trying her patience.
Frozen to the spot, he tried and then failed to think of something to say to remedy the situation. Because there was nothing he could say, really. If he hadn't reacted like he had, perhaps he could've explained it away somehow, but now…well, there was simply no doubt left that it had to do with her.
As he looked at her, he had no idea how to respond, so he started pacing. At least then he wouldn't have to look at her.
Shego, however, was certainly looking at him. Staring at him openly and with a large helping of perplexed incredulity. "Uhm, what exactly are you doing, Doc?"
"Mulling over my suppressed feelings, of course! What does it look like?" He barked, with a great deal more hostility than he'd intended.
"Well, excuse me!" Shego barked back indignantly. What was wrong with him now? It had only been the logical question to ask!
Harrumphing, he kept pacing, attempting to ignore her.
Meanwhile, Shego followed his frantic, back and forth little dance, like the audience of a tennis match keeping their eyes on the ball. Finally, she'd had enough, rubbing her forehead and leaning against the wall, closing her eyes.
What the he— is he really going to 'mull over his suppressed feelings'? Right now? With me watching? Can he get any weirder? And when did he write that, anyway? Shego wondered; then, not wanting to even start going into the overwhelming question of exactly how long this thing had been going on, distracted herself with another question: Or better yet, why did he write that? Who actually writes something like that in the first place?
Why did her life have to be this weird? Why was she even there? Why couldn't she just have a sane whatever-he-was—
As she stood there, she could hear his footsteps quicken even more, hear him start to mutter quietly to himself, hear his breath go irregular, and it was only then that she noticed that she was shivering just the tiniest bit.
Peering at him through one half-opened eye, she saw him pace and pace, and it dawned on her for a more powerful, second time what was in fact happening, what she'd just seen in that book, why he was acting like this, and it was only the silly surface of the whole situation that was keeping her from panicking.
She watched him start tearing at his hair, pulling agonized faces that would've made her snort in any other kind of setting.
This was just getting ridiculous.
Fine, she thought, sighing, fine, so it's enough of this now.
It looked like she was being forced to deal with this sooner rather than later. Funny how you told yourself you could plan these things even though you knew you never really could, wasn't it?
Pushing away from the wall with her elbows, she took a couple of steps towards him before she coughed gingerly. "Um...Dr. D?"
He whirled on her, nostrils flaring. "What?"
She almost jumped. "Nothing! I mean—" She scowled, momentarily frustrated. "Gah, calm down, okay?"
"What?" He demanded, his voice only marginally calmer. "What is it, Shego?"
For a moment, she didn't reply, only studying his face as if trying to make up her mind about something. When she spoke, she sounded almost casual. "Possible really embarrassed me yesterday, you know. She thinks she's so damn funny, talking to the reporters like she knows our business."
This wasn't anything like what Drakken had expected her to say, if he even knew what he'd expected, but he didn't comment, only frowned a bit and waited, sensing that she wasn't done talking.
"And I was thinking I'd like to take her down a peg or two," she continued matter-of-factly.
"How?" He asked, infinitely grateful of the fact that she appeared to be changing the subject. "I mean…we were just pardoned, Shego. I was hoping we could lay low for a while at least, and I don't think attacking Kim Possible is the wisest course of action right now."
She shook her head. "Not attack, Dr. D— I wanna embarrass her!" Her left hand went to her hip, before she tapped his chest with her right index finger for emphasis. "Really make her feel it! If we can get her on the front pages of some tabloids, then even better!" She added, wicked vengeance saturating every syllable.
His brow wrinkled as he looked at her, trying to figure out where she was going with all this. "You mean...like we did two years ago? Only without the making her vanish forever part?" He suggested.
"Sure! I mean, what's the fun in making her disappear?" She reasoned, a mischievous grin blooming on her face. "I want her alive to really suffer the embarrassment! I want her to wish she could disappear!"
Finally, he knew exactly where she was going, and he couldn't have been happier with the subject, couldn't have been happier at how she'd managed to drag them up from the mire of embarrassment and onto solid ground. "Oh, Shego— remember the fun we had?" He gushed, oozing wistful, evil joy. "Remember how she tripped and fell down the stairs in front of that boy she had a crush on?"
"Hah, yeah, and totally crashed into him and nearly tore his sweater off!" She enthused, shaking her head. "Not to mention at the restaurant!"
"The coke she spilled all over herself!" He chimed in.
"The whoopee cushion!"
"When she up-ended the table over her little date!"
She snickered. "Heh, yeah…we still have the pictures, right?"
He nodded happily, with a grin that looked like something out of a haunted house. "Oh, yes…I even took copies!"
"We should so publish them online, too," she prompted, her smirk playfully malicious.
His eyes lit up, his toothy grin spreading further. "That's an excellent idea, Shego! Now…what else should we do?"
"I dunno…but I don't think we need the Embarrassment Ninjas to chaperone this time," she remarked coyly, chuckling a little.
Drakken released a scoffing little laugh. "Yes, fat lot of good they did me! Overpriced and useless they were!"
"And no stink bombs!" She said firmly.
"Definitely not!" He agreed, nodding.
"You know…call me a wacko, but I have a feeling this might actually be fun," she said, eyes shining with excitement, her hand clutching the sleeve of his lab coat now, her face feeling pleasantly warm.
"Yes," he said, grinning widely, squeezing her hand, looking at her and thinking for a second that her expression almost made it look like she was glowing somehow—
—and then she moved forward, simultaneously pulling him towards herself by his sleeve, and before he quite knew what was going on, she'd brought their lips together, warm, moist, soft pressure against his mouth—
A small, startled squeak died in Drakken's throat as his eyes went wide.
This was how it was supposed to be, she thought, opening her mouth slightly and reeling him in by encircling his neck with her arms. She almost had to stand on tip-toe to compensate for the height difference, but she didn't care— and then he bent down and carefully started answering her kiss, and then she really didn't care.
This was how it was supposed to be. No nagging family, no insecure, questioning puppy dog looks from Dr. D, no plant trying to tie them together like some bizarre Christmas present— as if life was that easy— this was only her deciding on an impulse to kiss him just because she felt like it, just because she wanted to, and him responding because he wanted to.
…and very, very...good.
The kiss went on for a while...
...and a little longer...
…lifting his arms, Drakken embraced her waist, and Shego made a soft, encouraging sound, deepening the kiss.
Soon, their tongues met tentatively and moved together in slow, gliding heat.
Drakken trembled and squeezed her against his chest, cupping her cheek with one hand and trying to keep up with her mouth. It had come as nothing short of a shock, but after all they'd been through, he wasn't about to run away from this; he could only meet it head on, going with whatever she was doing, letting her take the lead and guide him. There had been enough back and forth already. He didn't have that much experience in this, sure, but then he'd never been a very patient man, either.
When their mouths finally separated, he leaned his cheek against her forehead, panting softly. "Nnhh..."
"Mmm..." Shego sighed, her eyes closed and her fingers brushing idly across his neck.
His voice was hoarse when he spoke. "That was..."
She nodded immediately. "...yeah."
"...nnhhmm," he murmured, demonstrating once more that adjectives weren't his strongest side that day.
"Yeah," she repeated, grinning slowly.
Then he seemed to come out of his daze as something occurred to him. "Wait, you mean that this...scheme...would also be…you know, a date?"
Her hands dropped from his arms at his question, and she scowled at him. But she also didn't step away. "Hey, you can call it whatever you like, but just don't expect me to use that lame word— anyway, I mean, yeah, I suppose so— I guess it would be something like that," she admitted grudgingly, glancing at him with a smidge of irritation. "I thought I was pretty much being Captain Obvious here."
There was a long pause, during which he could only stare at her, eyes roaming cautiously across her face. Finally, he decided she was being serious, and he tried to figure out how to respond.
When he finally replied, it came out like the vocal equivalent of somebody tip-toeing through a mine field. "Um, not that I'm complaining, but in my day, a date would be more in the direction of, you know...the movies...or dinner or, I don't know…or something?"
Shego desperately wanted to make some sort of mocking comment about 'in my day'— it was mocking gold, dammit— but figured that while it would be amusing, it would also be very counterproductive.
"Dr. D, we're villains," she began, before taking a deep breath and looking at him meaningfully. "Our lives are different from other people's in most aspects. Our home is a lair, our money comes from robberies and schemes, our living room consists of a giant laboratory with a couch in the corner, we spend our weekdays plotting global domination and we have super powers and green and blue skin."
"So?" He asked, with a move-it-along sort of hand gesture.
She rolled her eyes. "So why shouldn't it be the same with this? I mean, why shouldn't we entertain ourselves by subjecting our nemesis to psychological torture instead of watching some box office flop and eating overpriced, stale popcorn?"
He considered this for a moment before nodding. "That's a point."
"Besides," she went on, shrugging, "I've known you for years, Doc. I kinda think we're past the point where we sit at a restaurant somewhere and share some nervous chit-chat."
A somewhat smug grin worked its way across his face. "Oh, so I make you nervous, do I?"
Shego sent him a withering look. "You know, I had a feeling this whole thing would make that pesky gloating addiction of yours kick in sooner or later."
Drakken harrumphed loudly in an attempt to hide his embarrassment. "Anyway— you were saying, Shego?"
"I was saying that it's not a situation I'd wanna be in," Shego continued, before smoothly slipping a little retaliation into her explanation: "I mean, hello— you and me on an actual date-date? What're you gonna do, try to impress me or something? I've seen you in your jammies already, for crying out loud!"
Drakken scowled at her. "Do you mean that we can't…? That you don't…? Or do you?" He rambled on in frustration, before finally snapping: "You're just confusing me now!"
Shego sighed, looking a little discomfited. "Look, I just don't wanna be…wooed. That'd just be all embarrassing and stuff."
Drakken shook his head at her, frowning. "But come on, Shego…I mean, if you want to…" He let the sentence trail off, not entirely certain how to describe what he and especially what she wanted, "…well, it's going to be awkward at first no matter how we do this, isn't it? Because it's…y'know…us," he settled for, sending her an abashed, but hopeful smile.
She grimaced. "Ugh. That's the problem."
He shrugged, then, as if he felt there was no problem at all. "If you don't want to be wooed, I guess you could woo me instead," he said pragmatically.
Shego's eyebrows shot up. "Excuse me?"
"Well, it is 2007, after all, and you're a modern, independent kind of woman, so why not?" He challenged, raising his brow right back at her. "And you're the one with all the money to spend on luxury, anyway," he added, a tad snippily. "Goodness knows your salary's high enough."
That actually made her laugh, and he began to feel a bit more optimistic. "Gee, Doc, I'd buy you flowers, but you do kinda have your own supply now."
An optimism that left just as quickly as it had arrived. "Hilarious, Shego."
She grinned, shaking her head. "You're on, Dr. D. I'll bring dinner."
He fixed a downright disbelieving look on her. "You're going to cook?"
She snorted. "I can afford to have somebody else cook it for me."
He puffed his chest up, looking self-satisfied. "You know, I think I'm going to like being wooed."
She bit back a chuckle. "Yeah, I bet."
There was a short silence.
Then Shego noticed that Drakken's hand was hovering just above her arm, unsure.
Drakken let out a soft, short breath. "Umm..." He began uncertainly.
Her smile was crooked. "Again?"
Drakken nodded eagerly, relieved that he didn't have to ask.
Shego laughed, but she also kissed him.
The date was a complete disaster.
They were never discovered while tailing Possible, but the champagne was lukewarm, Shego's outfit was ruined by Stoppable's purple Slushee, which he accidentally dropped over the edge of a bridge while they were lurking in the hover car under said bridge, Drakken got sick from the oysters that Shego had brought for dinner, and as they were about to leave, they flew straight into a flock of ducks and crashed into a billboard, consequently spending the rest of the evening bickering.
If there was one valuable talent they'd picked up from their careers in villainy, though, it was the ability to dust themselves off and try again.
And as usual, they had managed to have some fun before it all went south.
The next day, Bonnie Rockwaller received an email containing half a dozen truly embarrassing pictures of Kim Possible. She spent the afternoon happily selling her copies to every tabloid she could get in touch with, completely unaware that she was helping two infamous super villains reap all the benefits of Kim Possible's humiliation without any of the consequences.
When he heard the news, Bonnie's future father-in-law was quite proud. He didn't seem quite as pleased, however, when Bonnie was sued for slander by Kim Possible and his son begged him to pay for all the legal fees and the final settlement, which, incidentally, would end up paying for a new house for the Possibles.
Luckily for Drakken and Shego, all this meant they escaped the worst of the media attention.
Because while audiences always loved a great epic tale of heroic redemption, they loved things like reality TV shows, soap operas and clips of 'funny' animals even more.
Which, unfortunately for Kim Possible, also included things like embarrassing pictures of world famous celebrities wearing their pants around their ankles and a bucket of spoiled oysters for a hat.
Author's note: In the words of Roy Orbison: 'It's OVER! It's OOOOOOOVEEEER!"
Some of the stuff in this chapter is also older than dirt. Some of this I've been holding on to since 2007. Yeesh.
I apologize for the previous 'chapter'. It wasn't in German, French or Icelandic, but it was most certainly a joke. It was simply a cut and paste job of the first act of the Norwegian play Peer Gynt by world famous playwright Henrik Ibsen— with the names of the two main characters 'Peer' and 'Åse' replaced by 'Drakken' and 'Shego'. It was written in Norwegian, although in a nineteenth century manner of writing, which was closer to Danish than what Norwegian is today.
I know it was immature, but it was my last chance for a silly prank since Maslow's now quite definitely over. And I had some cheap laughs over it, too. Kekeke.
A big Thank You to Charlotte C, who's been my lovely beta on this story since chapter 17: THIRTEEN. Thanks for coming along on the rest of this silly ride with me. I'm sure you didn't know how much work it would be when you signed on, kekeke. ;) Nah, I keed, I keed— we've had lots of fun. :)
A salute also goes out to my previous beta, Zoza. Thanks for all the helpful words, babes. :)
And then a thanks to CJS, Marvolo Cassius AKA Lon Wolfgood, Artemis, Yume, Dippy AKA Teh Dipstick and Mickey, who've all listened to me rant about the story at some point and have even brainstormed with me a few times.
A final thanks is owed to the people who've been kind enough to take the time to not only read my story but also to leave me reviews. Thanks, guys. :)
So he wanted her to be his partner, okay, not bad— but a partner in what? Crime? Legitimate research? Speaking tours? Driving an ice cream truck? What?: Charlotte mentioned that I had to touch upon this somehow, and so I took her suggested text and rewrote it a little.
What the he— is he really going to 'mull over his suppressed feelings'? Right now? With me watching? Can he get any weirder? And when did he write that, anyway?: Another one of Charlotte's great suggestions, rewritten by me. :)
Drakken's appointment book: From chapter 15: Sisyphus.
NOW GET THE HELL OFF MY LAWN, YOU PESKY KIDS! D: