The instant the doorbell began to sound, she regretted ringing it. What was she doing here? What was she thinking, asking for help from her greatest foe? Admittedly, they were no longer quite foes—and she was no longer quite a villainess—but old habits died hard, and asking the cheerleader for anything disgusted her. She actually turned away from the door, intending to leave, but as she did, reality hit her full in the face, and she realized the real reason she'd come to this place: she had nowhere else to go. She had no real friends who were girls; in fact, the cheerleader was her only female acquaintance. This was her only choice, unfortunate as it was. She lingered on the front porch a moment longer, torn by indecision, and suddenly she heard the front door creak open.
It wasn't Kim. It was the mother, the medical doctor—Shego remembered her from the time she'd spent living with the Possibles during what she called the Miss Go Incident. Apparently Mrs. Possible recognized her as well, because she smiled. "Shego, isn't it? What can I do for you?"
"Hi, Mrs. P," Shego replied, smiling weakly, wishing more than ever that she'd run off that porch while she had the chance. "Is Kimmie here?" Had she just said Kimmie? She fought the impulse to smack herself in the forehead. She was so rusty at normal social interactions—she supposed it came with living with a villain for so long.
The doctor's smile became apologetic. "No, I'm afraid she's out with Ron for the day."
Shego's shoulders slumped a bit, which surprised her: despite her uncertainty, apparently she'd really wanted Kim to be there. She just needed someone to talk to. Mrs. Possible eyed Shego thoughtfully a moment, and then smiled brightly. "It's such a hot day out," she said cheerily. "Why don't you come in? I've just made a pitcher of lemonade for when the twins get home."
Shego tried to disagree, but in doing so she forgot that Mrs. Possible was a mother and therefore had an uncanny ability to get people to do things they didn't want to, and in a few minutes she found herself firmly ensconsed in the breakfast nook, a tall glass of lemonade on the table before her as a symbol of her defeat.
"Now," said Mrs. Possible, seating herself across the table from the former villainess, her own glass of lemonade in her hands, "why don't you tell me what's upsetting you?"
"What?" Shego said automatically, defensively. "I'm fine. Why would you think something's upsetting me?"
Setting her glass down, Mrs. Possible counted on her fingers. "One, you came here to talk to Kimmie, so something big happened because you two aren't exactly friends. Two, you're wearing a sweater in the middle of July, so either something's seriously wrong with your body temperature or you needed a shirt that was comforting, and wearing a sweater is like cuddling with a blanket. Three, you look about ready to kill. Or cry."
"I am not going to cry over—I'm not going to cry," Shego shot back immediately, harshly, but the effect was spoiled when, after delivering her retort, she stared at Mrs. Possible a moment and then put her head down on the table.
"Shego?" Mrs. Possible asked gently. "Do you want to talk about it?" When there was no answer, she pressed further, "Is it Drew?"
Shego's head snapped up. "How did you—I mean, what makes you think I'm involved with him?"
A smile played across the doctor's lips. "Actually, I never said I thought you were. Though I'm reasonably sure you are now." Shego put her head back down and groaned, and Mrs. Possible grinned. "Also, I saw pictures of that awards ceremony."
Realizing she'd been defeated, Shego turned her head to the side and idly began tracing patterns in the condensation on her lemonade glass. "We're—we're sort of together. I mean, I told Drakken after the whole alien thing that I wanted to stick around, with him, and I thought he knew what I meant, but now . . ." She sighed. "Nothing's changed. He still bosses me around and ignores me half the time. And today we got into this fight—" An unfamiliar thickness came into her throat and she stopped.
"Shego, do you want to tell me about your fight?" Mrs. Possible sounded like a therapist, and Shego supposed that came with trying to keep three kids and a husband happy and sane.
Still, it was strangely soothing to pour out her feelings like this, so she sat up and continued, though she refused to meet her confessor's eyes because she was fairly certain that her own eyes were getting red, if the stinging behind her lids was anything to go by. "I was just . . . tense, and he was tense, and I was fiddling with some little piece of machinery and I broke it somehow, and he shouted at me and—I mean, he and I yell at each other all the time but it was so much worse this time. I started yelling back, and I said that I didn't know why I stayed with him, and he just said, 'You know where the door is.'" She stole a glance at the doctor. "Maybe it doesn't sound so bad now, but it . . . to hear him say that he didn't care if I stuck around—I thought . . . I thought we had something."
Mrs. Possible opened her mouth to say something but Shego cut her off, finding that revealing her soul to this near-stranger was strangely cathartic. "And I've been thinking about it, and I don't know if I want to be with him! I don't know why I ever wanted to be with him. He's—he's just so embarrassing sometimes—he's so bad in social situations. And he's so . . ." she trailed off.
"Dense?" Mrs. Possible suggested gently. "Stubborn? Absentminded? He tends to get so caught up in his big scientific projects that he completely forgets about you?"
Shego gaped at her. "How did you know?"
Mrs. Possible smiled wryly. "There's a reason Drew and James were friends in college."
She stared at the woman a moment, then put her face in her hands and began to laugh, a tired, soft sound.
"Can I ask you something?" Mrs. Possible said after a few moments.
Shego looked up to see the older woman looking wisely at her. "I guess," she said cautiously.
"He makes you mad and you don't know if you want to be with him, right?"
The villainess nodded.
"Then why did your fight upset you so much that you came all the way out here to talk to Kim?"
She had no answer for that.
"I think it's because you do want to be with him," Mrs. Possible said. Shego studiously avoided her gaze, and the doctor leaned forward. "Shego?"
The villainess sighed, her face in her hands. Finally, her voice muffled, she muttered, "You're right."
"About Drew?" Mrs. Possible confirmed.
Shego dropped her hands. "I do care about him," she said softly, staring out the window. "There's so much more to him than some people realize and he's . . . he has this smile when something goes really well, and it's so—and he worries about me. I'd forgotten what that was like. And when he's feeling unsure of himself, he's so vulnerable and he looks at me and I feel like I should . . ." She didn't know how to finish, so she bit her lip instead. "He's really great," she finished lamely. "And I do want to be with him, even if he is incredibly exasperating." She frowned. "But I already tried to tell him once. I told him I wanted to stay with him."
"But maybe not clearly enough?" Mrs. Possible asked, and then laughed. "Sweetheart, some men don't get the message until you tattoo it on their foreheads. You've got to tell him. Tell him what you told me."
"That he's embarrassing?"
"I'd leave that part out," Mrs. Possible said sagely.
Shego laughed and took a sip of her lemonade, thinking. "So Mr. Possible is difficult too?"
"Sometimes," Mrs. Possible agreed.
"Then why do you put up with him?"
The doctor smiled. "Because he's difficult some of the time, but he's a wonderful man all the time, and I love him. Now finish up that lemonade. You need to have a talk with Drew."
Shego left the house of her greatest foe with an unaccustomed warmth in her chest, spurred by the hug she'd received along with assurance that she could come over any time she needed to talk. The cheerleader was still a pain, but she had a decent mother.
She returned to the lair to find Drakken in a state of near-hysteria. When he'd realized she had left, he'd thought she'd taken him seriously and left for good, and he'd been worrying himself to death all the time she'd been gone. She stepped into his lab and found him perched anxiously at his computer, phoning every villain she'd ever had any contact with to demand if she was there, and when he turned and saw her standing there, the look of pure relief that covered his face made her heart twinge in an unaccustomed but altogether delighted way.
"Shego, I'm so sorry—" He broke off, looking overwhelmed.
When it became clear he wasn't going to finish, she said softly, "I know, doc. I'm sorry too." Crossing the room to where he was, she took a deep, steadying breath and then sat down next to him. "And I'm sorry I wasn't more clear when I said I wanted to stay last month. What I was trying to say is I don't want to be your sidekick anymore."
The smile went off his face like someone had blown out a candle. Even without looking at him she could sense the change in his mood, and she instinctively grabbed his hand reassuringly. "What I was trying to say then . . . and now—I still feel this way—is that I . . . care about you. A lot." Unable to meet his eyes, she looked down at their joined hands. "I want to be with you. And I want you to want me to . . . want to be with you." She cringed inwardly. Was she always going to be this verbally inept when she got emotional?
But she didn't have time to think about it, because a vine was curling up the desk leg in front of her, and as it reached the top a cluster of beautiful flowers appeared. She glanced over at Drakken to see him smiling goofily at her. It was just the kind of awkward smile that had irritated her so many times in the past, and at any other time, especially if he'd smiled at her like that in public, she'd have smacked him for it. But now she knew that smile was for her, because he cared too, and she knew that even if he was sometimes difficult and awkward, he was, as a very wise woman had said, a wonderful man.
So she took the offered flowers and smiled back.