Drakken didn't look up, but he did flinch a little as the door burst open. "So, how did it go?"
"How do you think it went?" Shego snarled, her voice crackling with fury. "How does it always go?" She slapped a flat hand on the table, making him jump. "I work my ass off for days on end planning a heist down to the last detail, nearly kill myself pulling it off, and at the last second, oh, you know what happens! That perky little bitch and her idiot sidekick show up and ruin everything I've done!"
Drakken tried to hide his surprise. Not that a little colorful language from Shego was particularly shocking – last time she'd lost at poker she'd nearly peeled the paint off the walls – but she tended to reserve her swearing for more dramatic situations than the type of defeat they'd both grown depressingly used to. He risked a sideways look at her. She looked terrible. Her hair was frazzled, her eyes were red, and she was carrying herself like she ached all over. "And for how many of those days did you not sleep?"
He might as well have been speaking Russian for the uncomprehending look she gave him. "What?"
He shrank back, hands raised defensively. "It's nothing. You just…you look tired, is all."
A snort. "Gee, look who's an expert on what women want to hear." She was pacing now, her steps not quick enough to hide her exhaustion. "Of course I look tired. I just told you, I've been working for days and I just got my ass handed to me." She exhaled deeply and pulled a crumpled wad of paper from…somewhere; he had no idea where she stored things in that suit. "And I got a letter from the family."
That much he'd known; he'd seen the postmark from Go City when he brought in the mail. "Oh?"
Shego flicked the paper at him. He unfolded a short letter and a newspaper clipping with a date a few months previous. "DARING MIDNIGHT RESCUE," the headline screamed, then, "Local woman saved from art thieves by masked defender." The accompanying picture showed a short, cheery-looking woman with her arms around the neck of the masked defender in question, whom Drakken guessed was Shego's oldest brother. He'd only seen the man twice, but there was a definite family resemblance around the eyes and the stance. And the suit, of course. The letter was a printed page, addressed "To our friends and family." Behind that, someone had handwritten "and Shego."
"It was in all the papers," Shego continued, an edge in her voice that could have cut glass. "How those daring young men and their fearless leader saved the day once again and rescued hundreds of priceless pieces and the gallery director." A dark laugh. "Long story short, she and Hego are engaged now."
"How nice for them," Drakken said absently, more to fill a gap in the conversation than anything else.
There was that laugh again, angry and bordering on hysterical. "Of course it is. What doesn't turn out nice for him? He's a hero all over again, gets his picture in the paper like he's the only one of the four who did anything, and now he got the girl. It's like the universe sent him an early Christmas present. And me?" Yep, definitely getting closer to hysterical every time now. "I get knocked down by a teenager. Again."
The sound of her fist hitting the wall brought Drakken to his feet. Normally one of Shego's rages was something he'd try to get away from as quickly as possible, but this time there might not be anywhere to get away to. "Hey! You wanna bring the whole lair down?"
"Wouldn't be the first time." She flexed her fingers and he heard a knuckle crack. She started to pull back for another punch.
Drakken caught her by the shoulder, turning her around to face him. "The contractor said this place couldn't take much more strain."
"That makes two of us," Shego muttered. She didn't look at Drakken, but even so he could see the hard set to her jaw, the snarl fixed to her lip to keep it from shaking….
The trickle of tears running down one cheek. Oh, crap.
He should have left the room, just wandered off and pretended he didn't see anything. It probably would have been easier for both of them. But it was too late now; both of them were entirely too aware of the other's presence and trying to walk away would just acknowledge how awkward this had gotten. There was only one thing to do. "Hey," he whispered, putting an arm around her and pulling her close. "It's okay. It's okay."
He'd half expected her to pull back, probably with a look of pure disgust as she stalked away, but instead she collapsed forward, head against his chest, and sobbed.
Drakken was beginning to reassess his thoughts on which option would have made the situation worse. He hadn't held a girl, let alone a crying one, in longer than he cared to remember, and it wasn't as if he was known for his sentimentality or his ability to offer solace. He was evil, dammit, and so was she, and after this was over it would probably be weeks before they could look each other in the eye again.
And yet, as he stood there with his oldest friend pressed against him, stroking her hair and whispering meaningless words of comfort, he knew that there was no power on Earth that could ever make him let go.