Author's Note: sequel to Subjects of Humanity. This can't be read and understood without reading that first.
Disclaimers: I don't own Kim Possible. Also, please keep in mind that there is (M)ature content herein. This includes violence, explicit language and sexual content.
Kim felt like she had been implanted into the fairy tale Little Red Riding Hood, except she wasn't Little Red and there would be no woodsman to come and save her. In this version of the story, she was the wolf and was doing her very best to answer the questions that were meant to expose her as a hoodwinker. Kim could imagine her mother in the red hood saying, 'why what big eyes you have, Kimmie' in an effort to physically prove that her own eyes were betraying her, and that her daughter really wasn't sitting across the dining room table.
"I don't understand this at all," Dr. Possible's head fell into her hands. "You've been gone for so long. We buried your body."
Kim released a heavy sigh. "I know it's hard to believe—almost impossible actually—but it's the truth."
"Clones?" Dr. Possible gave a small shake of her head. "You're asking me to believe that I buried your clone—that you've been alive all this time stuck in some coma?"
"Yes," Kim didn't even stutter over the word. "Shego and I survived our fall, except I ended up in a coma and she ended up paralyzed."
"And what?" Anne Possible threw her hands up in the air. "She just couldn't find a phone to let us know that you were still alive?"
Kim didn't remember her mother being this sarcastic before. There were a lot of things about her mother that Kim noticed had changed. The physical signs of age were there, but Kim expected to see that. It was the internalized changes that Kim wasn't completely prepared for. She hadn't expected her mother to become so unrelenting and jagged. The warmth Kim remembered her mother exuding seemed to have turned lukewarm at best. Anne Possible had changed, and Kim could make an educated guess as to what caused her mother to become so different than she had remembered. Of course, Kim wasn't blind to the irony that her mother probably felt the same way about her.
"The fall," Kim steadily replied, "it changed her. She started seeing things—things that weren't there. She kind of just…lost it."
"Then where were you?" Anne was digging to find the inconsistencies that lied underneath Kim's words, using great effort to not give into the urge to believe the unbelievable. "Who took care of you? Where did these clones come from?"
"We don't know," Kim infused her words with the helplessness she knew should accompany them. "It's been so confusing," Kim dropped her own head into her hands. "Things are different and everyone thinks I'm dead."
It had taken Shego a while to teach Kim how to cry on demand. It had taken them even longer to manufacture enough evidence for their story to be believable. If they were going to assume the lives of their original selves then they'd have to come up with something intelligent people would believe. Telling the actual truth was immediately ruled out since Animatus was still a threat. They had been able to leave him, but they hadn't managed to kill him.
They couldn't take any risks, and since they knew next to nothing about him and hadn't even quite figured out how he ended up with an undetected facility underground that was probably as big as Middleton, they weren't in any position to defend themselves against unknown attacks. It wouldn't be wise for them to assume that he worked alone, and for some reason neither one of them thought telling someone their dead bodies were abducted by an A.I. who reanimated them and then cloned them off to become subjects in a research venture was going to earn them any sanity points, and would probably expose them to more than one joke about Frankenstein.
Besides, if they talked about Animatus, then they would also have to talk about how they really shouldn't exist at all. They would have to admit that they weren't the original Kim and the original Shego. The lives they remembered having before the hero and villain had died would not be theirs to claim. Everyone would want to rescue the real Kim and by association the real Shego. No one would even care that they were the ones that walked out of Animatus's world intact. No one would recognize that they were the ones that deserved to have this life. No one would understand the pain they had gone through to be able to survive. No one would understand that they were better than the Shego and Kim who were still in Animatus's sadistic world.
"I just," Kim wiped at her tears, "I just want my real life back."
Unable to remain firm while her daughter cried helplessly in front of her, and too willing to believe that the reality she wanted to be a nightmare really was an unwanted dream, Anne Possible stood up from her seat and then walked around the table. She cradled her daughter's head against her chest, and then began to cry herself. Her little girl had come home.
Kim wrapped her arms around her mother's waist, and the crocodile tears she had been shedding easily became very real. She needed her family to believe the lie she and Shego had concocted, but there was a part of her that wanted to reveal the truth in all its gory detail so that her mother could cradle her in a warm embrace and give her absolution for the atrocities she had committed. Kim had always sought approval and acceptance from her family, and that need hadn't been altered by experience or time, but Kim realized that the woman who held her now wasn't her mother. This woman, who held onto her so tightly, was Kim Possible's mother and not hers. Animatus was her mother, her father, and her sole creator.
After a long while of being held in Anne Possible's embrace, Kim pulled away and wiped away her tears. It was time she finished telling her story—her lie. "After I got caught up with the current events of what was supposed to have happened to me, I wasn't even sure I should try and come back. I thought it might be better to…stay dead."
"No, Kimberly," Anne reached out for her daughter's hand, needing the physical contact so that her brain didn't convince her she was just talking to a ghost. "That would never be better. We've missed you so much. I'm glad you decided to come back."
Kim ran her free hand through her auburn hair. "I didn't…" She took a deep breath. "I didn't come back immediately," she admitted in a rush of words. "I stayed to help Shego. Her body was healing, but her mind…" Her words trailed off, giving the illusion that her mind was stuck reliving the memories of her falsified past.
Anne gently squeezed the hand she held in her own. "Where is Shego now?" She asked as delicately as she could, not wanting to cause her daughter unneeded distress.
"She's better," Kim offered a noticeably false smile. "She's walking again. Her powers, I think, helped her heal from wounds nobody else could."
"Oh, Kimmie," Anne released her daughter's hand and then reached over to brush back the hair covering part of Kim's face. "What's wrong?" She, like many mothers before her, took solace in being able to see through the words her child spoke to the unvoiced core where the truth supposedly rested.
Kim hurriedly stood up and then began pacing in the small space available to her. Real nervousness bled into the artificial emotion Kim had practiced displaying. She and Shego were relying so much on their ability to tell a believable lie. They had to answer so many questions, fill in so many blanks. They had a daughter to explain away.
"So many things are different," Kim stumbled over words. "I have a daughter, and I think she might be Shego's and I have no idea how it happened." She said in rush, already having decided that partial truth was better than a complete lie. Kim technically had no knowledge of how it was she had been impregnated with Shego's child and wasn't looking to repeat the experience. Athena was lucky to have survived Animatus's experiment, and Kim wasn't confident that another child would manage to be as strong.
Anne leaned over and rested her head in her hands. "Maybe you should start your story from the beginning, Kim."
Hearing the disbelief bleed through her mother's words, Kim quickly modified her story intent on making her mother believe even if it meant calling forth the Kim she had become during Animatus's trials: the Kimberly Possible who would and did do anything to win no matter the cost or sacrifice. The family she now sought to seek entry into was important to her, more important than was probably healthy for her, but they were important even though she clearly recognized that they weren't technically hers. She carried the memories of the Kim who had come before her. They were tangible and flowing in Technicolor with its own unique soundtrack, bringing heartache and joys that she knew formed part of her core personality.
The life that technically wasn't hers, was now sitting in front of her to take and hold onto. She deserved more than the Kim that had died. She was stronger than that Kim, and had a family to think of that included a daughter and a lover that had come to mean more to her than the family who thought had buried her. So, Kim gathered up her solid unflinching will and forced her mother to believe her. She leaned against the nearest counter, her back facing her mother and let the power Animatus had cursed upon her to come forth.
"It's a long story," she told the countertop below her, putting emotion in her words that she knew her mother would ache from hearing. "I don't remember how a lot of things happened, and it's not something that is easy to talk about." She slowly turned and then just as slowly lifted her eyes to seek out her mother's curious agony filled gaze. "I'm not sure I'll ever be able to talk about everything. There are scars all over my body and…marks. The only thing I can say for certain, the only thing I know for certain is that I have daughter that I love and found a best friend in a person I thought I'd hate forever."
One of the last things Shego had told Kim before they left to convince the world they had come back to life was a reminder that Kim had to make her family believe that she was a different person. She had to make her family realize that the Kim they had thought dead really was buried, or no one would be able to accept them. Shego had even said that telling some of the truth would help, since they had both lived through things that had changed them forever, even though they were the clones and not the originals.
Anne Possible removed her head from her hand and then stood up. She walked over to the visage of her daughter, and then stared into the eyes that were so like the child she had raised but still vastly different than she remembered. Her arms reached out and drew the younger woman closer to her body. She rested Kim's head onto her shoulder and expressed the only words that Kim desired to hear, "It doesn't matter what happened, Kimmie. You're here now, and that's all I care about."
Kim wrapped her arms around her new mother and released a relieved breath across Anne Possible's shoulder. She could go back to Shego knowing that her family would blindly follow her lead. They were going to have a new life now, unknowingly given to them by their original selves.
"I love you so much, Mom." Her words were the truth. Her sentiment was genuine. Yet, for some reason she felt oddly disconnected from the manipulation she had just manufactured.
Anne released her daughter from her hold, forcing a smile on her face trying to quickly accept changes that she never ever conceived possible. Her husband may have that idiotic adage that, 'Anything is possible for a Possible' but she new better than to believe it. She was a doctor, and understood that sometimes things just weren't possible, but since she got her daughter back she was willing to pretend once again that anything really was possible.
"So," Anne's eyes darted around the small room as if expecting another surprised to jump out and attack her from behind, "when do I get to meet my granddaughter."
"She's with Shego now," Kim happily followed the change in subject. "I wasn't sure how to do," her arms waved around the room expressing her internal uncertainty, "this. I wasn't sure how to talk to you, and I didn't want to involve Athena."
"Athena?" Anne tested the name in her head, knowing that somehow it didn't quite fit with the daughter she remembered. Kim had never taken particular interest in Greek mythology, but the Kim she had known wasn't standing in front of her. The person in front of her now was a young woman she still needed to be introduced to. "Did Shego name her?"
"Sort of," Kim admitted, knowing that she couldn't tell her mother that Animatus had named her daughter as some sort of deluded gesture of kindness to her lover. "We both decided on it."
They had both just accepted Athena's name, fearing the price Animatus would ask for if they had changed it. They had grown to like the name, recognizing the name as one of strength and hope for a future. While they never would verbally admit that Athena was truly a gift from Animatus, they recognized their child as such. In what was as clichéd as picket fences and football games played on Sunday, Kim and Shego believed the pain they went through was worth it in the face of having their daughter now with them. It was all worth it in the end, even if 'end' really wasn't currently being used in line with its definition.
Things weren't over. Nothing had truly ended. They had moved on and now were making efforts to build a life they knew Animatus wasn't entirely separate from. They could never push him out of their lives, and had no clue as to where to start the pushing even if they did want to make elaborate plans to make him disappear.
"Then when do I get to see the both of them?" Anne couldn't begin to imagine the changes Shego had gone through if her daughter was any indication of what might have happened to them both. Kim was very different, and not just in mind. Her body had changed beyond the normal ascent from puberty into adulthood.
"Shego is just waiting for me to call her."
"Then perhaps you should." Her mother offered. Pushing her doubts back down, knowing that with time she would be able push down all her doubts with little effort. She would sacrifice her logic and reason so that she could have her daughter back, and gain a granddaughter.
Kim smiled genuinely now. She wanted Shego to be standing next to her. She wanted her daughter within her sight. It wasn't easy to be apart from them, since they were quite literally her whole world. Everything she now did was so that she could make life better for them as a family.
So, Kim reached into the front pocket of her jeans and pulled out a cellular phone, one of the first items Shego and she bought when they left Animatus's labs. She dialed Shego's number and when Shego's voice came through the small mechanical device she couldn't help that her smile grew even wider. "Mom wants to meet Athena," Kim told her partner, knowing full well that Shego could hear all the levels of relief that were in her voice.
"Then we'll be there," Shego responded. "I knew you could do this."
"I know," Kim couldn't help that her eyes fell away from her mother's form. "I'll see you soon."
They both knew to measure success not in the great battles won, but in the small victories that added up to what once seemed absolute defeat. That's how they had outgrown Animatus's cage, and they hardly knew how to fight a battle any other way. Kim's father still needed to be approached, but he would follow Anne's lead. Kim remembered that much about her father. He was never the dominant one in his relationship and more than a little naïve when it came to the world around him.
So, Kim and Shego would take this current small victory and would work on making the world believe that they had returned. They would slowly take over this world like they had taken over Animatus's. They would be in control and no one else would realize it, because for better or worse they were Animatus's children. He had taught them well.