STANDARD DISCLAIMER: The characters of Kim Possible, Dr. James Timothy Possible, Dr. Anne Possible, Jim and Tim Possible, Ron Stoppable, Wade Load, Steve Barkin, Bonnie Rockwaller, Monique, Tara, Felix Renton, Rufus the Naked Mole Rat, Drew "Dr. Drakken" Lipsky, Shego, Dr. Dementor, Lord Montgomery "Monkey Fist" Fiske, Señor Senior Senior, Señor Senior Junior, Dr. Betty Director, Special Agent Will Du, Global Justice and any and all other minor characters/locations from the television series Kim Possible are the sole property of the Walt Disney Corporation, and are used herein without permission or contest to their ownership for the sole purpose of personal, non-profit entertainment. Any and all minor characters that have not appeared in the television series, and this storyline, are the sole creation and property of the author and may not be reproduced without prior consent (if you want to post it, just ask).
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of the characters herein to any person or character, real or fictional (those mentioned above notwithstanding), living or dead, is strictly coincidental.
Ron Stoppable couldn't believe the sweltering heat. It seemed like the entire town of Middleton was there to witness the graduation of Middleton High's Senior class; and with the outside temperature of the late-June evening still in the mid-eighties, Ron was sure the temperature inside the auditorium was flirting with the hundred-degree mark… if it hadn't already surpassed it. He had been looking forward to this day ever since he first set foot in the halls of the high school four years previous, now all he could think about was getting out of there. He was hungry, his butt hurt and his tie was starting to choke him, making him restless. However, his extensive experience at clandestine operations with his longtime partner—and now long-term girlfriend—Kim Possible had taught him how to keep himself still, despite the restlessness.
Breathing out an almost imperceptible sigh, Ron made another attempt at listening to the Mr. Barkin—the school's vice-principal—as he rambled on, wishing he was up on Lookout Point—a high plateau that overlooked Middleton, and from which one could, on a clear night, see the lights of Lowerton—with Kim, doing like they always did up there; sitting on the trunk of his mid-nineties ragtop Mustang, looking over the city, quiet music playing on the stereo.
Finally, Mr. Barkin said something to bring Ron back to the here-and-now, temporarily putting his daydream on hold. "Ladies and gentlemen," he said, his booming voice amplified even further through the auditorium's public-address system, "it is with great honor and privilege that I present to you Middleton High School's valedictorian, Miss Kimberley Ann Possible." A general shuffle was heard amongst the graduates as they turned to watch Kim make her way to the stage.
Ron couldn't help but be a little in awe of the young woman as he watched her approach the stage, moving with a grace borne from her years as a cheerleader and the confidence borne from her years as a crime fighter. He'd gotten used to the idea, but it still amazed him once in awhile that "the girl who can do anything" had chosen him, a dorky, uncoordinated putz, whose only real attribute was comic relief. She'd had guys fawning over her left and right… and yet, in spite of it all (or maybe because of it all?), they'd gotten together in Junior year, and were still together, about to graduate high school and continue on with their lives.
Arriving at the podium, Kim took a deep breath, looking out over the crowd before beginning her speech. "Thank you, Mr. Barkin," she began, smiling briefly in his direction before turning to face the crowd once again. She took a brief moment to let her eyes scan across the many familiar faces present in the auditorium that evening. Doing her best to ignore the butterflies in her stomach, Kim cleared her throat before speaking again.
"Man, is it just me, or is it hotter than Hades in here tonight?" she said, a note of humor in her voice. A polite laugh was heard from most of the crowd, relieving some of the nervous tension that was manifesting itself as a knot in Kim's stomach. I've faced deranged psychopaths and lethal criminals, she thought, and I'm worried about speaking in front of a crowd… go figure. Feeling a bit more confident, she took another deep breath and launched into her speech.
"Fellow students, honored guests, teachers, parents, ladies and gentlemen," she began, "at the beginning of our senior year, I was asked to present the valedictorian's speech at the graduation ceremony. Of course, the first thought that went through my mind was why me? There are several other candidates that are far more qualified than I am. After some convincing by both friends and family, I finally accepted.
"The next question to cross my mind was, what do I talk about? I originally had thought about the usual life's a journey and this is just one of the milestones we'll pass in our lives, but somehow, it just didn't seem adequate. Instead, I thought I'd pass along some lessons I've learned over the past few years… some came from within the halls of Middleton High; while others weren't so hard." Again, polite laughter could be heard. Even Mr. Barkin chuckled at that joke.
"As many of you know, I've been involved in some, rather unique, shall we say, extracurricular activities since my sophomore year. I've met some interesting people—some good, some not so much—and I've been all over the world. I've seen more in the last four years than most will see in a lifetime… and I wouldn't trade it for a minute.
"I said I was going to speak about things I've learned." Pausing, Kim turned to face the graduates' gallery, speaking to them directly. "I hope you weren't expecting a whole rigmarole of advice… 'cause I don't have any. All I can tell you is this: no matter what you face, no matter who tells you what you should and shouldn't do… follow your heart. That's the best advice I can give anybody."
Kim turned to face the audience in general before she continued. "I know there isn't one person in this room tonight that doesn't have a regret of some type because they didn't follow their heart, or they let somebody talk them out of something they wanted to do. Too many people put too much on logic and the reasonable choices. Sometimes, the best choice isn't the most reasonable one or the most logical one… it's the one that makes the most sense for us.
"I'm the perfect example. How many people told me I shouldn't worry about the troubles in the world or the so-called super-villains that were threatening to take over the world or destroy it? You're too young, they would say, you shouldn't be concerning yourself with that stuff. Let the grown-ups handle it." The contempt with which she used the term grown-up wasn't lost on many in the auditorium, but nobody made a move to interrupt. "More than once, I was even tempted to take that advice and just give it all up and go back to being a teenager.
"So why didn't I? Well, the answer's simple, really… I couldn't. Whenever I would get down about not being able to live like a so-called normal teenager, I would go up to the treehouse and just sit—sometimes for hours on end—and think. Every time I asked myself the question should I quit, the answer was always the same: can I live with myself if I do? Helping people is my life… my calling, as it were. I couldn't give it up if I tried… and I don't want to." Again, Kim turned to address the graduates' gallery again, this time with a broadening smile on her face.
"If you take nothing else from this redhead's ramblings, take this: each and every one of you has a talent. Something you enjoy doing and are good at; something that, if you could do it for a living, would make you the happiest person in the world. For some, that may mean working as a computer scientist; for others, maybe their dream is to travel the highways and byways of America in a semi. Whatever your aspirations might be… make sure that your dreams are yours, nobody else's."
Kim had planned on ending her speech with that thought, but she got a sudden wave of inspiration, so she continued. "Live your life as if each day is your last. Laugh. Cry. Play catch in the backyard with your son/daughter/cousin/whoever. Torment your twin brothers once in awhile, then treat them to an ice cream or something for putting up with your shenanigans." At this, Kim cast a conspiratorial wink at her twin brothers before continuing. "Whatever it is that makes you feel good about yourself and makes your day just a little bit brighter. Smile and the world smiles with you; frown, and nobody wants to talk to you."
Again pausing, Kim turned to—at least, from the audience's perspective—look at the graduates' gallery again; while, in reality, she was looking directly at one person in particular. Her voice much softer than it was when she began her speech; the microphone mounted to the podium almost didn't pick it up when she spoke again. "Above all else, never, ever be scared to tell the special people in your life just how much they mean to you," she said, her voice hardly above a whisper as she locked eyes with Ron. "Don't be scared to tell them you love them… because you might lose your chance before you know it."
Ron gazed deep into the emerald eyes of the young woman he'd fallen in love with, her words striking at his heartstrings every bit as much as their first kiss did at Junior Prom. They had both known that they loved each other for a long time, but neither had bothered to say it; at least, not with words. They could feel it every time they looked in each other's eyes or made physical contact. For them, it was enough.
He also realized, however, that they had started getting lost in each other's eyes, and Kim was still supposed to be delivering a speech; so, in true Stoppable fashion, he flashed his trademark goofy grin and a thumbs-up, winking as he did so.
That had the desired effect. Kim turned to face the crowd again, the barest of flushes evident on her cheeks. She did manage to retain her composure, however; not letting on to anybody what had just transpired between her and her significant other. Taking a breath, she once again gazed out over the crowd, briefly catching the eye of her mother before she spoke again. "I mean… isn't that what living life is all about? Doing the things you love with the people you care about?"
Scanning the room one last time, Kim again caught the eye of her mother; but something was different this time. Dr. Anne Possible was subtly wiping a tear away, an approving smile on her face. Beside her, Dr. James Possible gazed in awe at the words that his "Little Kimmie" spoke, realizing once and for all that she was, all of a sudden, all grown up… and definitely no fool.
Kim smiled sheepishly at the crowd one last time, her arms folded behind her. "Guess I went off on a little tangent there," she said softly, "sorry." Clearing her throat, she straightened her spine before speaking again. "Getting back to my original point, though; like I said at the beginning, if there's one thing I can honestly say I've learned between school and saving the world, it's this: nothing's worth doing if your heart's not in it. Thank you." With the slightest of bows, Kim turned to return to her seat in the graduates' gallery. As she walked, Kim started to think maybe her speech had fallen flat; there was nary a sound to be heard from anywhere in the auditorium. However, almost like a replay of Junior Prom, the entire room suddenly erupted in a symphony of cheers and applause; from the students, the teachers and the audience alike.
Kim's best friend—Ron notwithstanding—Monique high-fived her as she returned to her seat. "You tell 'em how it is, girlfriend!" she crowed, a broad smile on her face.
"Thanks," was all Kim could say, relieved that her speech had been as well-received as it was. The moment of silence before the crowd started cheering had made her nervous. Little did Kim realize, but there was one individual in the crowd—watching from the back of the room—that should have made her about ten times more nervous than a possibly blown speech ever should.
Nobody had originally noticed the young woman that took a seat in the back of the room, almost directly back from the stage. Other than her odd attire—a knee-length, dark-green (almost black) trench coat, matching fedora and Oakley sunglasses—she presented no threat or suspicion to anybody. Even in the sweltering heat, the woman never removed any of her outer gear; even going so far as to keep her leather driving gloves on her hands, leaving only her cheeks, chin and nose exposed. Only one person in the whole auditorium had taken notice of the woman when she entered the auditorium, and he was now keeping a hawk-like watch on her as she seemed to be eyeing Kim rather heavily. Wade Load, Kim's pre-teen tech guru, had the (mis)fortune of being seated a mere six seats away from the mysterious spectator, giving him the opportunity he needed to keep a close eye on her—not to mention the chance to realize just why the woman was keeping as much of her skin covered as possible… but the green tint was still visible in her pale cheeks.
Damn, he thought to himself, what's Shego doing here? Not wanting to attract undue attention to either himself or the evil Dr. Drakken's muscle—lest he unwittingly provoke the older woman—Wade turned once again to face the stage, watching as Mr. Barkin began calling the graduates to the podium one-by-one to accept their diplomas. His positioning, however, allowed him to keep Shego in his peripheral vision, ready to alert Kim at a moment's notice if he thought things were to become ugly, surreptitiously slipping his left hand into the pocket of his blazer, where his personal version of the Kimmunicator resided, his thumb resting on the silent page button. One press of the button would cause Kim's wrist-mounted device to vibrate, alerting her to a problem without disrupting the entire ceremony—something she and Wade had agreed on beforehand.
Shego, however, seemed uninterested in causing a scene; preferring to remain incognito at the rear of the auditorium. Her hand had snaked its way into her coat pocket, causing Wade to tense up, but relaxed when she withdrew it, holding what looked to be a charred piece of paper. He watched as Shego gazed at the paper, looking almost… wistful?
That piqued Wade's curiosity. What could possibly be on that slip of paper? Shego was famous for her detachment from any emotions (other than rage and sarcasm); yet here she was, staring at a piece of paper (Wade had a suspicion it was a photograph) and looking like she was missing something in her life—something she'd had at one point, but lost.
"Miss Kimberly Anne Possible," Steve Barkin's voice rang out over the public-address system, drawing both Wade's and Shego's attention to the stage; where Kim could be seen crossing the floor to accept her diploma, a beaming smile on her face. Wade still kept a half-eye on Shego, but again, she made no move to interrupt the proceedings, so he let himself relax. If there was a time she would have picked to take Kim down, that would have been it. Instead, he caught a glimpse of her taking one last look at the scrap of paper in her hand before shoving it back into her pocket, her own gaze returning to the stage, watching as Kim returned to her seat in the gallery. Even though she wasn't causing any trouble, and didn't seem to have any desire to do so, Wade couldn't help but wonder what brought the mint-skinned villain to—of all things—her arch-nemesis' graduation. These thoughts continued to run through Wade's mind as the ceremony continued, rapidly approaching the end of the festivities. Every time he chanced a peek, Wade saw no change in Shego's demeanor; which served only to make him more and more curious as to her intentions.
Finally, Mr. Barkin called upon Reverend Sampson to bring the evening to a close by offering the benediction to the Class of 2007. Reaching the podium, the leader of the Middleton Baptist Church beckoned for the attendees to rise for the offering of the benediction. As he stood, Wade turned just in time to see Shego ducking out the back door of the auditorium, the tail of her jacket swooshing lightly around her legs as she walked. He had almost returned his gaze to the front of the auditorium when something else caught his eye. Excusing himself to those seated along his row, he made his way as quickly and silently as he could to the object of his attention—the scrap of paper Shego had been looking at before apparently had slipped from her pocket when she rose to leave.
Whoa, Wade thought to himself when he picked up the charred bit of paper, this isn't something I was expecting. As he thought, the scrap was indeed photographic paper—evidently from one of those photo booths in the mall. In and of itself, it was rather non-descript, but the subject matter of the photograph made Wade do a triple-take; a smiling Shego—or, rather, Miss Go—and Kim, looking like they were having a wonderful time. Making a snap decision, Wade turned to follow the mint-skinned woman, bent on finding out just what her reasons were.
As luck would have it, he didn't have far to go. Just outside the lobby, Wade caught a glimpse of a woman in a trench-coat and fedora, smoking a cigarette. He walked as nonchalantly as he could, exiting the building from the doors the furthest from where she stood. The woman paid him no interest as he stopped, barely two steps clear of the doorway, acting as though he was glad to be out of the stuffy auditorium. Reaching into the inner breast pocket of his blazer, Wade pulled out a peppermint and popped it into his mouth.
"Lovely night isn't it?" he said, his gaze fixed on the constellation Orion. The woman merely grunted a response, taking a drag from the cigarette. Almost amused at Shego's Spy vs. Spy mystique, Wade took a quick look around. Satisfied they were indeed alone for the moment, he spoke again. "You dropped your picture in there, y'know."
That caught her attention, her head snapping around to look at the young boy. "Great; busted by Nerdlinger," she muttered, dropping the cigarette on the ground, grinding it out with the toe of her boot.
"What's your game, Shego?" he asked, approaching her.
"I just wanted to watch Kimmie's graduation, what do you think?" she snarled, no longer avoiding Wade's eyes.
"Somehow I doubt it," Wade said. "If all you wanted to do was watch Kim graduate, you could have watched it on TV." Due to Kim's worldwide fame, the requests had been coming in all through her senior year from television networks to have exclusive rights to televise the event. While the deal could have been extremely lucrative for Middleton High, Kim didn't care much for the idea of paparazzi and journalists turning her graduation—one of the highlights of her academic career—into a media circus. Instead, Wade had gone into the auditorium a week before the ceremony and set up a complete closed-circuit system that any network that wished to televise the event could patch into.
"I prefer the personal touch," Shego replied with a wry smile.
"Enough to go through all the trouble of disguising yourself as a Carmen Sandiego look-alike?" Wade quipped.
Shego couldn't help but let a sigh of exasperation escape her lips. "Okay, okay; you got me," she said, removing her sunglasses. "I came here because I want to talk to Kim face-to-face."
"I thought you said you weren't here to cause trouble; or else you would have—?" Wade began, but Shego cut him off.
"I said I wanted to talk, Poindexter," she snapped. "I'm waving a white flag here."
Wade was skeptical at first. Here he stood, not two feet away from somebody that, under normal circumstances, would have thought nothing of charging the stage and taking Kim on right then and there. But, as he watched the expressions in Shego's eyes, he could tell that she was sincere in her wishes. She just wanted to talk. Heaving a sigh, he studied the concrete under their feet for a moment before looking at Shego once again. "Okay, here's the deal. I'm going to go back in and watch from the back. Once Barkin dismisses everybody, I'll page Kim. One thing she never does of her own free will is ignore the Kimmunicator. I'll get her to meet me out here; and you'll be waiting."
"Well, you're being awful trusting all of a sudden," Shego said, quirking an eyebrow in surprise. Wade merely chuckled.
"Don't be so sure," he said, almost slyly. "I may be helping you a bit right now, but at the same time, both the Secret Service and Global Justice have this place staked out to the max. As it stands right now, you're probably in the crosshairs of a GJ sniper, just waiting for an excuse to take you down."
"I'm one of the most wanted criminals in the country," Shego replied, "why haven't they taken me down yet?"
Her question wasn't so much curiosity as it was that of trying to call Wade's bluff. She didn't doubt that security was tight in the area, but snipers seemed a bit over-the-top. What she wasn't expecting, however, was Wade's call of the bluff. "Kim's idea—don't take hostile action if none has been taken against her. So far, all you've done is attend the graduation and smoke a cigarette outside the building; neither of which are remotely illegal. The entire premises were inspected last night at midnight, and then the area was locked down; no unauthorized personnel allowed in before six this evening, when the grads and parents would start arriving."
"I'm impressed," Shego said, not bothering to mask her appreciation towards just how thorough the preparations had been for one of the most widely-publicized events the world had seen since the untimely death of Princess Diana or the election of Pope Benedict XVI. "You guys really thought this out."
"If you prefer, I could notify Global Justice that you're getting ready to lay the smackdown on Kim and give 'em carte blanche to start trying to pop you," Wade replied, withdrawing his Kimmunicator from his jacket.
"Okay, okay," Shego said, raising her hands in surrender, "we'll play it your way. I'll wait right here for you." As if to reinforce her statement, she slowly reached into her jacket and withdrew a pack of Marlboro Lights, extracting a cigarette with her lips before returning the pack to her pocket. Wade watched as she slipped the glove from her right hand, and, mimicking a lighter, flicked her thumb in the air, a slender green flame flickering from it. Winking at him, she used the flame to light the cigarette, extinguishing it as soon as it was sufficiently lit, pulling her glove back on as she puffed the noxious smoke from the corner of her mouth.
"I'll be right back," Wade said, entering the building again, leaving Shego to wait patiently.
Kim was standing with her parents and Ron, her right hand in his left, and laughing at a comment her mother had just made. Ron's naked mole rat, Rufus, had finally made an appearance (Anne Possible had smuggled him in her purse), and was perched on Kim's shoulder. Wade took in the scene almost reverently, thinking how the group of them looked like one big, happy family. He was loath to interrupt the tender scene, but he knew that the circumstances were definitely what would qualify as "extenuating." Sighing sadly, he took his own version of the omni-communications device and pressed a button. He could tell just by the expression on Kim's face when the signal he'd sent was received by her own wrist-mounted version. Instead of the usual A/V transmissions they shared, Wade had instead sent Kim a simple text message: Meet me at main entrance. Bring Ron. Wade.
Ron was laughing at a remark James Possible had made about his own graduation when he noticed Kim's left arm suddenly rise from her side. He knew right away she'd just gotten a silent alert on her Kimmunicator, so he leaned in to see what Wade had to say. He was more than just a little surprised to see that, instead of the teenaged-genius' face, text graced the miniature screen on Kim's wrist.
"What's with the cloak-and-dagger stuff?" Kim mused aloud, her brow furrowed. Shrugging, she turned to face her parents. "Mom, Dad; Ron and I have to go meet Wade out front. Something's up," she said, an expression of guilt on her face. "Hopefully it's nothing major."
"Go," her mother said simply, giving Kim's shoulder a gentle shove. "Celebration dinners can be held anytime." Over the years, James and Anne Possible had grown accustomed to their daughter's frequent sudden departures; as disappointing as they could be at times, they took it all in stride. Kim took a moment to hug her mother and father, bestowing a kiss for good measure on the cheek of her family patriarch before she and Ron made a beeline for the foyer doors; Rufus taking the opportunity to jump from Kim's shoulder to return to Mrs. Possible's purse.
"I don't get it," Kim mused aloud once she and Ron had exited the auditorium, "why would Wade send a text message instead of talking direct to us?"
"Maybe he just didn't want to spring a mission on you with your parents right there… especially on the night of your graduation?" Ron offered.
"It's never stopped him before," Kim replied darkly as they passed through the doors leading to the foyer. It took them but a second to find the hefty tech guru, standing a scant few yards from where they emerged. He made his way towards them, waving to catch their attention as he moved.
Ron saw him first. "Hey, Wade! What's up?" he said as the younger teen arrived in front of them.
"Hey guys," Wade said, a note of urgency in his voice, extending to the almost strained expression on his face. "I'd give you the heads-up before I show you, but you won't believe me… just trust me," he added in response to the dubious looks he was getting from the crime-fighting duo.
Kim cast a quick look at her boyfriend, then back to their young partner. "Okay, Wade, what've you got to show us?"
"It's not so much a what, as a who," Wade said, beckoning them to follow him. "You'll see what I mean in a sec."
Ron scratched his head in confusion. "Who-what-when… KP, I thought we agreed that Wade wasn't supposed to talk in riddles anymore!" he groused, his face screwed up in concentration.
"Never mind, Ron; let's just see what he's got to show us," Kim replied, taking his hand and urging him to follow her and Wade to the main doors of the building. As soon as they'd passed through the glass and steel portals, Wade looked to his left, beckoning them to follow as he'd apparently found what—or rather, who—he'd been looking for.
Ron saw who Wade was headed towards first, but his recognition was ill-placed. "Hey, Wade, is that Carmen Sandiego?" he asked. A suppressed groan of exasperation was heard from the subject of Ron's inquiry in response.
"Uh… she doesn't take well to that crack; I made it a few minutes ago," Wade replied.
"I'll let it go this time; I would expect as much from the Buffoon," an eerily familiar voice said, obviously coming from the woman they were approaching. Kim's expression hardened as soon as the owner of the voice registered on her.
"Shego," Kim growled through clenched teeth, her grip tightening on Ron's hand, as his did to hers.
"In the flesh," she retorted simply, dropping the cigarette she'd been idly smoking, crushing the glowing ember under the toe of her boot.
"To what do we owe this displeasure?"
"First things first, Kimmie, I want to make it perfectly clear that I'm waving a white flag tonight," Shego said, taking a half-step forward, but making no hostile moves otherwise. "I don't want to fight; I only want to talk."
"Okay," Kim said, a note of trepidation still in her voice, "if you're just here to talk, then I'll listen." Taking a step forward of her own, Kim raised her hand, index finger extended ramrod-straight at Shego's nose. "But know this: one—and I mean one—wrong move out of you, and I will have your ass in a sling so quick you won't even know it hit you."
"I've already warned her that she's probably got a set of GJ crosshairs on her skull right now," Wade interjected.
"Tell GJ to stand down," Kim said. "If Shego wants to screw around… she's mine." Sighing, Wade pulled out his PDA and advised GJ of Kim's request as the auburn-headed heroine kept her icy gaze on the mint-skinned villainess.
"Listen, Princess," Shego growled, "I'm trying to extend an olive branch, but if you're just gonna give me attitude, I may reconsider."
"Why don't we just hear her out?" Ron said suddenly. Everybody else present had just about forgotten about the heroine's partner, but he stood his ground a half-step behind Kim, and just to her left, offering him a clear view of Shego. Kim turned her head just enough to be able to see him from the corner of her eye, never taking her attention from where her nemesis stood, mere feet from their own position. Catching his eye briefly, Kim nodded almost imperceptibly.
"Okay, Shego; you've got two minutes… go." Kim said, again locking eyes with Shego.
"Fair enough," the older woman said, her almost ever-present sarcastic smirk absent from her face. "Kimmie—Kim," she amended in a rare display of respect, "I'm here to warn you."
Kim, Ron and Wade all gaped at the woman in front of them in disbelief. Here was Kim Possible's arch-foe, her most dangerous adversary, the only one that could give the teenage dynamo a run for her money… warning her? All three members of Team Possible—the front-line and back-end support alike—were struck speechless. Finally, Ron found his voice hidden somewhere around his diaphragm. "Warn her… of what?"
"Doctor D's gone off the deep end," she replied, her eyes darkening, "and I don't mean in the usual mad-scientist, am-I-really-really-evil-Shego kinda way. I mean he's gone totally bananas."
"And… this has what to do with us?" Kim said, looking warily at Shego. "Quite frankly, I think Drakken would look good in an I-love-me jacket."
"I don't think you're quite catching the meaning, Kim," Shego said, stepping closer to the young redhead. "Drakken has a new objective, and it's not taking over the world."
"Finally gave up on the pipe dream, huh?" Ron commented. Shego barely spared the young man a second glance as she stopped bare inches from where Kim stood; the slightly taller Shego bending her neck to look Kim directly in the eye—in such a way she wasn't looking down on Kim, just locking gazes with the younger heroine.
"So what exactly are you saying, Shego?" Kim asked, giving the villainess no quarter, her own olive eyes locked with Shego's emerald ones.
"Kim… Drew Lipsky wants you dead."
Neither of the two women spoke for a moment, then, to Shego's chagrin, Kim started laughing. "You mean to tell me," she said between laughs, "you came all this way, played cloak-and-dagger with us until Wade found you… to tell me something I already know? You and Drakken have both been trying to take me down ever since the first time I kicked your biscuit!"
Shego let out a growl of frustration, throwing her hands up in the air and stepping away from where Kim stood. "Don't you get it, Princess?" she exclaimed, turning back to face the younger heroine. "I never wanted to kill you… injure, sure; maybe even maim or incapacitate… but never once did I try to kill you!" Taking a breath, she flexed her hands, composing herself once again before returning to within a couple of steps of Kim. "Look, Kim, we may fight a lot, and yeah, we've given each other some pretty lasting marks, but… God, I was hoping it wouldn't be this god-damned hard!" With that, Shego turned so her back was to Kim once again, her head slumped and fists clenched once again in frustration.
"Come again?" Kim said, now completely confused.
"Does it have anything to do with this?" Wade offered, withdrawing the charred photograph from his pocket. "You dropped it when you left the auditorium," he said in response to Shego's questioning look.
"Yeah, you could say that," she replied, her shoulders slumping further, her expression gone almost neutral. Wade passed it to Ron, who was trying to get a look at the mysterious slip of paper.
"Hey, this is—" he began. Wade nodded in response.
"Um… hello?" Kim said, waving her hand at her boyfriend and tech guru. "Would you guys mind cluing me into the sitch, here?"
Ron merely passed the photograph to his girlfriend, turning to Shego as soon as Kim had taken hold of the charred fragment. "Okay, Shego… what's the game?" he asked simply.
"There is no game, Ron," Shego replied, her hands jammed into the pockets of her trench coat. "After that whole incident with the Attitudinator, a lot of the evil-sidekick-hired-muscle stuff kind of lost its appeal. Simple version is this: I'm sick of Drakken and his crap and I want to go straight."
Kim had been silent up to that point, almost awestruck at the photo in her hand. She remembered the day that photo had been taken at Middleton Mall. She and Shego—Miss Go at that time—had spent a day shopping and hit the photo booth on a whim as they were preparing to leave, giving them an impromptu souvenir of their day out. She couldn't suppress the wistful smile that spread across her face, remembering just how much she'd enjoyed Shego's company as a good person; but Wade's comment snapped her out of her reverie, turning to look directly at Team Possible's tech guru. "You don't suppose…" she began, wondering if Wade was thinking along the same lines.
"…that maybe the Attitudinator left some residual alterations to Shego's brainwaves?" Wade finished, the cogs almost visibly turning in his head as he spoke. "It is possible that multiple exposures to the Attitudinator could have residual side-effects… and it would explain a lot of things. Take Ron for example."
"Me?" Ron said, pointing to himself in almost disbelief.
"Yeah," Wade replied, "you've had several encounters with the Attitudinator, and since then your fighting prowess has improved radically."
"I thought that was more due to Ron being able to harness the Mystical Monkey power better?" Kim interjected.
"That may be part of it," Wade said, "but I think the Attitudinator may have a part to play in it, as well. Remember when Ron was everybody's favorite super-villain?"
"Ughh, don't remind me," Shego said, her voice laced with disgust. "Instead of taking over the world, he just wanted to turn everything into a Naco."
"Not exactly, but I digress," Wade replied, rolling his eyes. "Other than his skin turning blue à la Drakken, Ron's other major difference as Zorpox was his fighting ability—it increased tenfold. His first exposure didn't have any lasting effects, but after taking the second round of hits courtesy of Electronique, his overall fighting prowess has remained elevated."
"So what does it all mean?" Ron asked.
"Simple version is this: repeated exposures to the Attitudinator will make a person's true colors shine through. In your case, Ron, the only thing it did is reveal to everybody that you're not the grade-A klutz everybody thinks you are."
"Okay, but how does that relate to me?" Shego asked.
"Well, I can't say for sure—and for all we know, this theory is coming out of left field—but as near as I can figure, having had as many exposures to the Attitudinator as you have, it was only a matter of time before you started questioning your current occupation."
"That's one way to put it, I guess," Shego replied, smirking slightly. "The final nail in the coffin for my tenure with Doctor D. was when I found out what he wanted to do to Kim. Like I said before, I just wanted to beat her decisively… not permanently."
"So basically, we've got the same Shego, but on our side now?" Kim surmised.
"That's about the size of it, Kim," Shego replied, "and for the record—I might want to go straight, but there's no way I'm going to be the super-sweet Miss Go that you remember."
"Works for me!" Kim said. "Sure, it was fun hanging out with the super-good version of you, but it did get rather sickening at times."
"Especially anytime we had to double-date with you and Stevie," Ron added, provoking a shudder among those present. Mister Barkin's attempts to court the attractive Miss Go had bordered on fairy-tale, instant-cavity sweet sometimes… the source of those actions making it even harder to envision or endure.
"Okay, Shego, here's the deal," Kim said, going into mission-mode, "I'm gonna contact GJ to come pick you up and bring you to a safe house for the night. We'll meet again tomorrow evening to start hammering out details… and hopefully get you cleared."
"Do we have to get Global Justice involved?" Shego moaned.
"What choice do we have?" Kim replied. "You and I may have an understanding right now, but that doesn't count for squat, all things considered. Think about it, you have more outstanding warrants for your arrest from more jurisdictions than I'd care to think about right now—not to mention a hefty price on your head. I'd be willing to put money on the fact that the only reason you're not dead or, at best, in the middle of a firefight right now is because of my request to GJ to keep things quiet. Where I have pull with them, I'll talk to them about giving you a safe place to stay for the night, and tomorrow we'll see where we stand and go from there."
Shego heaved a sigh, then nodded, resigning herself to the facts. She obviously didn't like bringing Global Justice into the mix, but she also realized it was the only viable option available to them at the time that didn't involve her either hiding or running… or both. "Okay Kim," she said, "let's get it over with."
Kim looked at Shego and smiled before turning to Wade. "Wade, get Doctor Director on the line and explain the sitch as best you can. I'll be right here if she wants to talk to me directly."
"That's almost guaranteed," Wade replied as he started making the uplink to Global Justice's top authority, speaking as he worked. "If she's only talking to me, she may think I've been kidnapped and coerced or something."
Less than a minute later, the eyepatch-clad visage of Dr. Betty Director graced the screen of Wade's omni-functional PDA. "Mister Load," she said jovially, "to what do I owe the pleasure? I trust the arrangements we made for Kim's graduation were adequate?"
"Oh, absolutely," Wade replied, making it clear that all had indeed gone well with the security arrangements for the evening. "However, there has been a rather… unexpected development."
"Agent Du informed me that Shego has been spotted on the premises, but no action was taken against her… and a request was made for us to stand down regarding her presence," Director stated, not bothering to cloak the irritation in her voice. "Has there been a problem?"
"Not so much a problem, but Kim has a special request for Global Justice… albeit somewhat unorthodox."
"Is Kim there? I would much rather she make the request directly, if it's possible… no pun intended," Director stated.
Kim had been listening the entire time, and was completely prepared for Director's request when it came. Without a word, she took Wade's PDA from his hand. "I'm right here, Doctor Director," she said, meeting Director's stern gaze with one of her own.
"Kim," Director said, a practiced smile on her face, "congratulations on your achievements—and your speech; I watched the entire ceremony via Mr. Load's closed-circuit feed."
"Thank you, Doctor Director," Kim said, "but let's scrap the unnecessary pleasantries, shall we? I have a special request for protection from an individual that's well-known to both of us, and I'm hoping you'll be able to help us out."
Director was slightly taken aback. Never before had Kim been this up-front and frank with her, so she figured whatever the request was, it had to be important to her. "You have my undivided attention, Kim," she said, "and my word that I'll help you in whatever way I can."
"I was hoping you'd say that," Kim said. "Without going into too many details, Shego's asked for our help in going straight."
"Care to elaborate on that a bit?" Director said, not quite ready to blindly follow Kim's gut feelings… which was exactly what it smelled like to her. She trusted Kim's judgment, but even the most observant person could be fooled, and Director wanted to make sure.
"Shego's had enough of the criminal life and can help us take down Drakken once and for all. She helps us do that, and we help her start a new life as a free-and-clear member of society," Kim replied. Sighing, she cast a glance at the auditorium doors, noticing several groups of people starting to file out of the building. "Look, it's starting to get crowded out here; if you can give Shego safe haven for the night, we can discuss things further tomorrow."
"You're serious about this?"
"Never more so in my life."
"You're willing to stake your reputation on this?"
"My reputation, my word and my life," Kim said, never flinching.
Director finally nodded, after pondering for what seemed like an eternity. "Alright. I trust your judgment, Kim, but I'm afraid some precautions will have to be taken."
Kim noticed Shego tense at that statement. "What sort of precautions?" she asked, her eyes still on Shego.
"Instead of a safe house, Miss Go will be brought directly to Global Justice—not into custody; just as a precautionary measure. She'll be placed in a vacant ladies' barracks room. Would that be acceptable?"
Kim looked again at Shego, as if transferring the question to the older woman. "One question," Shego said, moving to speak to Director herself.
"What's that?" the Global Justice head asked.
"Are the showers private or community?"
Kim snorted, trying her best to suppress a laugh, her free hand clamping over her mouth to hide the smirk. Doctor Director, meanwhile, merely smiled at the former villainess, who was peering over Kim's shoulder. "Worry not, Miss Go," she said, "our barracks would be better referred to as condominiums. Each unit has its own facilities, laundry and appliances. Think a higher-end, two-bedroom condo, and you have the basic idea."
"Sold," Shego replied with a genuine smile, first aimed at Dr. Director, then to Kim. "Thanks, Princess," she said, moving away from her vantage point over Kim's shoulder.
"No problem, Shego," Kim replied. "If you're truly willing to try to make a fresh start, I'm willing to help."
"Kim," Director's tinny voice drew the redhead's attention back to the PDA in her right hand, "I've advised one of our agents on-site there to come and collect Miss Go and escort her back to our facilities. His name is Special Agent Mark Dawson." As she spoke, her own image was replaced with a file photo of the agent, giving Kim means to positively identify their contact. "He should be there within two minutes in a Global Justice car."
"Thank you, Doctor Director," Kim said as the face of Dr. Director once again graced the screen, "for everything."
"If this pans out, you'll be the one that deserves the thanks," Director replied. "We'll talk further when you come to meet with us tomorrow." With that, Director's face disappeared from the screen of Wade's PDA, briefly displaying the stylized KP logo that he had designed before winking out completely. Smiling, she handed the device back to Wade, who replaced it in his pocket.
"Well, Shego," Kim said, turning to the green-hued woman, "the ball's rolling. Let's just hope that everything goes smoothly from here on out."
"I sure hope so," Shego replied.
"Here comes your ride," Wade said, pointing out a black Crown Victoria that had just pulled into the parking lot not far from where they stood. As it approached, Kim and Shego could both plainly see the driver was the individual Director had informed them would be coming to collect her, stopping the car a respectable distance from where they stood and approaching them on foot.
"Miss Go?" he said simply, looking at Shego. "Whenever you're ready, we'll leave for headquarters; no rush if you're still talking to Miss Possible," he added, nodding acknowledgement to Kim and Ron.
"Sure… I'll be right there," Shego replied, smiling briefly at the man. Dawson nodded and returned to where the Crown Vic stood, its engine idling. Shego cast the car and driver a quick look before turning back to her former arch-nemesis. "Listen, Kim… thank you. For everything—past and present. Fighting you was fun… let's hope fighting with you will be that much better."
"I can't wait," Kim replied, a beaming smile on her face. "And if you ever need a sparring partner… don't hesitate to call."
"Count on it," Shego replied. "Just because we're on the same side now doesn't mean I don't still want to find out once and for all whether or not I can take you fair-and-square."
"Time and place, Shego," Kim said, the double-meaning of the phrase not lost on any of those present. "In the meantime, go get yourself settled at Global Justice, and we'll talk tomorrow."
"You got it, Princess," Shego said with just a hint of her trademark snark, turning to head for the Global Justice car. After a couple of steps, however, she stopped and turned back to where Kim stood. "I almost forgot something."
"What's that?" Kim asked.
"As of now, 'Shego' is no more," she said, her mouth once again spreading into a genuine, happy smile. "My real name is Kathryn Gogh… you can call me Kate, if you want."
Kim's face mirrored that of Shego—or, rather, Kate Gogh. "You got it, Kate," she replied. All three members of Team Possible stood together, watching as their new ally approached the Crown Vic, unceremoniously brushing off the Global Justice agent's attempt at chivalry by opening her own door and climbing into the back of the car. Kim and Ron both exchanged a glance with Agent Dawson—who merely shrugged and climbed behind the wheel of the car—before exchanging a look with each other.
"At least she's not as sick-sweet as Miss Go was," Ron said.
"I think this version of Miss Gogh will be easier to swallow," Kim replied, slipping her hand into that of her boyfriend's.
A/N: Like I said in the tag line, this is a plot bunny that's been hounding away at me for a long time now, and I finally decided to take a crack at it and see how it goes. This is my first KP fanfic, but reading some of the other great fics based on the show gave me the motivation I needed to make a go at this one. As it stands right now, this is a feeler chapter/prologue. If the reviews don't warrant it, I won't bother continuing with it; but if demand is there, I'll hack away at it and hopefully come out with something worth reading. I can't promise a regular update schedule, but I will work at it as time allows, and update with the same devotion.
Looking forward to hearing from the readers out there.