I don't own these characters.

This fic is based on the Hoobstank song "Running Away."

Change Your Mind

She found herself staring at the deep wooden door once again. Her body trembled from the sight and she swallowed down a whimper. She would not lose control. She could not do that anymore. What happened?

Her emerald eyes regarded the blockade with an endless sadness that it was at best indifferent to and at worst mocking toward. It was not the first time she had been shut out, both literally and figuratively. She dreaded how it would not be the last if things continued.

For the last few months, it seemed as if her time at home with her beloved was spent looking at that door. It would stare back in silence that cut through her like a frozen dagger, glaring angrily at her for reasons she did not know. What happened?

The door stood firm, blocking her path and being contemptuous toward her as it did so. It seemed as if the wood was bidding its time before deciding to crush her. Maybe it was deciding how to crush her. There were so many different ways to do it, after all. Standing there, strong and bold, was certainly one of those ways. What happened?

She sighed, as if in deep despair, mourning the death of nothing, of everything. She leaned forward, almost as if she was going to fall against that fierce door, but she thought better of it and straightened herself out. She then put her put her pale, green hand out, considering at least touching the door, but she recoiled once more, pulling back as if it came at her like a striking snake. She continued to stare. It was the safest, most non-offensive thing to do.

She wanted to talk, to fill this damning silence that threatened to eat her whole. She needed to talk, if only to get the wood to stop frowning at her. The problem was that her significant other did not want to talk. Kim never wanted to talk lately. So, if she started speaking, she would only end up discussing matters with the stiff beast in front of her. Still, her mouth opened without any permission from her brain, her needs overriding her thoughts.

"Kimmie…" she called in a voice that would have made an angel cry, speaking through the closed door. This was how she spoke to her lover now, all the time. Was it something that she did? Probably. She could not fathom what.

She waited patiently, anxiously for an answer to her simple beckon. None came, except for the stillness of the thickening air. She suspected that sound would carry extremely well in such a dense atmosphere. It seemed like the apartment air was always boiling hot and crushing pressure. She did not know how the walls could stand it. She suspected it would kill her long before the rotten door did. If not the air, then the deafening silence that always filled it. If only she could get an answer before something in the apartment did her in. Was it something that she did?

She never had a thought to hurt Kim, to do something to upset the younger woman, yet she could tell Kim was upset over something. Always upset, like the door. At least Kim did not mock her so cruelly, though. Well, maybe the absence of Kim did that job well enough. What had she done? What had she failed to do?

She remembered every anniversary they ever had, some that even made Kim say "huh?" She was always there for Kim, ever since the time when she went to the redhead, needing help of her own. The major crisis of her young life, she supposed. The crisis that changed everything by allowing her to befriend her mortal enemy, that allowed them to become close, that allowed things to grow and blossom, and for her to show her true feelings without worrying about her mean streak ever coming out to viciously bite the one she loved so much.

She supposed she had her brothers to thank, in a sorted twisted way, for providing her with the golden opportunity to run to Kim. If not them, then Electonique. Either way, she was able to get to know her Princess, get to realize her feelings without the denial that would have come if she was in her right mind, and, best of all, she was able to verbally and physically express those feelings.

It was this side, the uncorrupted side, the pure side that Kim loved, that kept her this way. This was the side Kim smiled at so charmingly, before this wicked door became her face for the most part. This was the side that Kim invited out all of the time, before the door. This was the side Kim hugged, kissed, and made feel like the sun could not set without her say so. This was the side Kim protected at all costs and held as if she was the most precious thing on Earth. It was this side that she was so certain her Princess wanted and, so, she remained this way, not wanting to return to loathing and loving Kim at the same time, not wanting Kim to go back to hating her.

She had her chance to go back to who she used to be, but refused it outright. It was the correct choice to make, was it not? She had no one to answer, aside from herself. Everything else was scornfully silent.

She could not have Kim if she was her old self. If she had a free will, she was certain she could never have Kim. Her will would snap, bite, and snarl at the one she loved so dearly, so she kept it locked away, chained in the darkened abyss of her mind like a bad dog. Her will would go back to hurting Kim at every turn, like she used to do. Damn my will, she decided. She could live in this shell if it kept her close to Kim, if it kept Kim with her.

This pure-version of her was the one that helped Kim as the hero realized her feelings. Her will would have never allowed her to help Kim. She was sure that her will would have kept Kim from ever growing to love her.

This was the side that Kim knew would never hurt her. Kim could bare her soul freely to it without having to worry about some sort of blow being delivered afterwards. She was able to support Kim when the hero broke things off with Ron. She was the one who helped both injured parties keep and strengthen their friendship after that, so much so that Ron learned to stop resenting her presence. He did argue it was wrong to keep her as she was, though. He was the one that ended up wanting to return her will to her, even though it was this lie that saved his dearest friendship.

It was because she had been so helpful that Ron argued she should be returned. Before, he wanted her back for selfish reasons, but as his feelings toward her changed, his beliefs only became stronger. She needed to be back to normal, he insisted. But, he needed to respect her wishes to stay as she was, she countered. This was what Kim loved and she loved Kim enough to be this, so she would stay this.

Well, she thought "this" was what Kim loved. Kim had not put up much of an argument with Ron when he kept urging they needed to return her to normal. But then again, she had argued against it rather well on her own. Maybe Kim had not felt the need to jump in since she had it. She argued against it because she thought that "this" was what Kim was in love with.

They had only officially been together a few months now. Kim wanted to wait until she had started college, away from Middleton, so no rumors went about. It was not that she was worried about what people said about her, Kim assured her love.

"I don't want people to think that you were abusing your power as a teacher…" Kim had told her what felt like a lifetime ago. She had gushed and cooed over Kim's concern. How sweet, she recalled feeling at the time. But, honestly, she felt that way about the newspaper being delivered, though.

So they waited, and after what seemed like a lifetime between them, they were then together. It started out fine, normal as far as she could gather. Sweet, tender kisses. Gentle, loving caresses. Hearts in their eyes as they stared at each other. Embraces that could not be broken with the jaws of life. But, that faded quickly and she found herself holding conversations with the door while trying not to be choked by the air and slaughtered by the silence.

"Kimmie… just tell me, is it me?" she begged through the wooden surface, her voice tearful and frail, like a lost cub calling to its mother. The door mocked her, continuing its usual glare. Fuck your tears, it seemed to say. Fuck your words, its presence told her. It was harsh, like she used to be.

The silence seemed to act as an echo, saying the same as the door, but somehow repeating her words. Something finally traveling through the air and it was not a relief. She could hear her words coming back at her clearly in a voice that was obviously her own. The words diced into her just as well as the quiet typically did. She was surprised she could even keep standing with all the attacks to her.

Is it you? Tricky subject, but she was certain that was the case. How could she hurt Kim? She did not have it in her anymore. She had made sure she could never do that again. So, what was wrong?

If Kim was not willing to talk to her, then what could she do? Just keep talking to the door, praying for an answer, and hoping she had not injured her love? If she had, then maybe the shell had broken. Was a will inevitable? Was pain unavoidable? She was hurt, but she felt like she could never hurt her Kimmie.

"Tell me, please, what's wrong?" she implored, voice weak and shaky. The door probably blocked the words completely, slapping down such a flimsy, unarmed question. "What can I say to make you feel better? What can I do to put the shine back into your eyes?" she pled, hand pressed against the door now, her arm quivering more.

Perhaps her fear of the silence had conquered her apprehension of the door, or she had simply gone out of her mind due to distress. The wood felt cold to her touch and she feared it would freeze her arm off. The quiet disturbed her to the point where she would not care if the door destroyed her questing limb, as long as it laughed while doing so.

There was a time when she could pick Kim up when it was necessary. Now did not seem to be one of those times. Was it that Kim did not need or want to be picked up? Or was her ability lost to her? Was it possible that someone else now had the power to uplift the hero? Was it possible her Kim now loved another?

"Why…?" she sobbed into the door, falling limply against the wood. It caught her as if it felt sorry for her, letting out a low thud like it was apologizing for tormenting her.

Why did Kim have to love someone else? They had hardly had a chance to get started and now it was over. Kim just could not bring herself to say it, apparently. All the redhead could do was leave her there, talking to the door, and being utterly pathetic. Worst of all, she really did not know she was in such a state.

This was what she was now. Pathetic. The word seemed to be hissed around like a violent wind, cutting through her. She was never that with her will, but this was what Kimmie loved. Wasn't it? Wasn't it?!

"Kimmie… please… talk to me… tell me… what to do?" she begged, tears flowing down her cheeks, bombing the soft carpet under her bare feet. "Why won't you help me like before? Why are you leaving me all alone?"

She had the urge to bang on the door, but she could not. She could not even ball her hand into a fist. Her body wanted to, but it could not. All she was allotted was her tears, which made some dormant part of her angry. She was allowed the anger subconsciously, but could do nothing about it, except beg for the one that made her feel this way to talk to her.

She could hear footfalls coming toward her and they sounded like heavenly music. Her heart beat with delight from the small sound drowning out the silence. She almost expected angels to appear before her and a divine light to shine down on her. Was Kim finally going to talk to her? Was she finally going to find out what she could do to make things better? Would she find out she was the one hurting her beloved?

The door slowly opened, seeming to coldly greet her as it creaked. Kim stepped out before the door was even halfway open, as if the room spit her out. Kim's eyes were focused first on her feet and then on the woman she shared her home with, the woman who cried out for her like a lost child so many nights.

"I'm sorry," Kim apologized first and foremost. The redhead's voice was calm, strong, but low. There was no shame in the tone, but something that could be mistaken for regret if it was not that emotion.

She shook it off, black strands of hair dancing slightly about her head, neck, and shoulders, doing nothing to shift the heavy air around her, though. She did not want or need apologizes. She did not even want Kim to feel sorry for her and she knew that underneath it all. Still, her visible pathetic side accepted it, bathed in it, embraced it like she would her beloved Kim. This side just wanted Kim.

She tried to step to Kim, hoping for an actual embrace, but she hesitated. It was as if she feared Kim more than that monstrous door that separated them moments ago. Hugging Kim now was only confirmation that they were not on the same page anymore. She could feel it in those tight muscles that only tensed more so when they touched. She could feel it against her chest whenever Kim held her breath, never daring to breathe while they were pressed together. She could see it in those olive eyes, which seemed to time how long was appropriate before Kim was allowed to pull away. So, she stopped, hands halfway posed for the hug, wishing the weight of the atmosphere around them would push the limbs down because she certainly did not have the presence of mind to do so.

Kim noticed the position of her lover, but did not make any motions to mimic them. The redhead even looked away for a moment. Was that disgust in those olive eyes? She was not sure. She had made the right decision to stop before she embraced Kim, then. Well, what now? Kim did not even want to be touched by her.

They could not have anything if her beloved did not even want to be touched by her. The air suddenly seemed to get hotter and more condensed. She supposed she had better press on with the conversation before the air was finally the death of her. Perhaps, it would be better that way anyway.

"Is it me?" she squeaked out, not sure why those were the first words to leave her mouth. She tried to prepare herself for what she was sure the response would be, but her brain did not know how to put up walls anymore. There was no steeling herself. She was bare and at her love's mercy.

"Why would you even ask that?" Kim countered, still speaking in a low, yet powerful voice. Well, maybe it just sounded powerful to her, the one with no armor, no defenses, completely open to attack if the redhead decided to start firing.

"This has been going on for so long. Just tell me the truth, Princess. I always tell you the truth, so tell me," she pled, tears continuing falling. Her eyes were developing a red to them, crimson cracks striking through the whites.

Kim nodded slowly, almost sagely, like she knew the answers to the universe. "I guess you're right. But, then again, you only tell me the truth because you're forced to."

Well, yes, that was why she told the truth. But, before, she was unable to express her true feelings, so that left them as mortal enemies. At least she had been truthful in her friendship and in her love in this state, in this shell, in this thing that she was so sure Kimmie loved.

"Is it me?" she asked again, voice cracking and going at a much higher pitch. She barely recognized the tone as her own, not being aware that she could sound like a scared mouse on helium until just that moment.

"It is," Kim confirmed, voice surprisingly strong, even though it was still low. Shame once again was absent. Sorrow did not even make its way into her response. She was stating a fact. A stone, cold, solid fact. It was something that needed to be said.

She was cut by the words like a blunt axe. It chopped a hunk out of her, but pained more than a sharpened blade would. She could practically see her blood pooling at her feet, ruining their beautiful carpet, coming from the imagined wound in her chest.

"So, tell me, why are you backing out of this? If it's me, tell me how to fix myself," she begged as she started to tremble. She fiddled with her hands, uncontrollably. Her shaking was only more noticeable as she twiddled her fingers together.

There was a moment of silence, yet everything seemed to be in stereo at full volume. Breathing was deafening. Blood coursing internally sounded like a raging river, yet there did not seem to be any sound beyond them. It was like the rest of the world had been switched off.

"I want Shego back," Kim replied after a few seconds that felt like years, her voice was remained as it was before. The redhead seemed so determined and intent on those words, knowing just what she desired.

"But… I'm here…" she whimpered in a way that Shego never would. Even still, this was her now. She was Shego.

Kim shook her head. "No, you're not my Shego. I'm happy you allowed me to see how I do feel for Shego, but you're only a part of her. I want you, but I want the rest of her, too. I want Shego, all of her," she explained, calmly but insistently. The hero seemed to know these things needed to be said, which kept her voice from faltering, which kept her from reacting to those heartbreaking tears.

"But… she hurts you… She will hurt you…" she muttered, crying more, trembling more. Why would her beloved want to be hurt again by that sharp tongue Shego carried? Why would her love want to be around the person that used to punch and kick her and mean it?

A long, low sigh escaped Kim. "This hurts me more. Watching a piece of her wander around, wounded, and not even realizing it or admitting it. This is no way for you to live, thinking this is what I want. I mean, I thought this was great at first, too, but it quickly became clear this isn't right. We shouldn't be like this. You shouldn't be like this," she replied.

"What should I do?" she asked, confusing swirling in her eyes. It was making her dizzy. All the information was making her dizzy and the air was not helping.

"That's your call. It was your call to stay like this. I know I influenced that and now I'm doing this. I'm sorry—" the petite globetrotter was cut off.

"I don't want you to be sorry," she said politely, but yet it seemed almost rude, near biting. She wanted answers. She wanted anger, her anger. She wanted wrath, passion, one of the seven deadly sins, but her brain denied her. She was not even allowed to consciously think about how she yearned for those. Her subconscious itched for something other than the ghostly, inhuman graciousness that she could only express now.

"There's nothing more that I can do. I don't want this anymore," Kim said, shaking her head as she spoke.

"Fine. You don't want it anymore. All right," she agreed as if it was only natural, as she only could. Disagreeing required fury, which was no longer possible for her. She turned to immediately act on her agreement. She might not be able to feel any of those seven deadly sins, or even a vice anymore, but she could be hurt. She needed to deal with the wound, clean it, dress it, before it festered, burned, and got infected.

"Where are you going?" Kim inquired with her face scrunched up.

"I'll leave. I don't want to cause you any more stress." The point of this shell was to avoid causing Kim any agony, to make her happy. It had failed.

"You don't have to."

"Yes, I do." With that, she was gone. She packed nothing, said nothing more, and disappeared into the night, like she would have done when she was normal. Except now an empty feeling, a hollow agony, and a sense of loss that she never would have imagined chased her, nipped at her heels, and threatened to devour her. Why did this shell have to feel pain just as badly as her whole?

-*-(New day)-*-

The apartment seemed to growl, like an empty stomach. She had been gone for days and it was worrisome. Could someone in her condition last that long alone? People could be taking advantage of her kindness. People could be harming her in someway because she would be too polite to injure them in return, to polite to turn them down. She could be dead right now because her body was not allowed to defend itself anymore.

Searching always was done in vain. The only good news that ever came in was that no one found a pale, green-tinted body floating in a river. Other than that, the silence was crushing, collapsing her bones, but never quite murderous. All that meant was constant and consistent agony. Throbbing, ripping, tearing agony.

"Well, don't you look a perfect mess," a familiarly cool, almost cold voice commented, watching the redhead on the couch.

Kim clutched a pillow as if she were hugging the poor thing to death. Fiery hairs were out of place and dark rings were under those olive eyes, marring healthy peach skin. Even Kim's pajamas hung off of her awkwardly, as if they had given up all will to go on.

Kim turned her head from her space on the sofa to the window. There she was, sitting there with a smirk on her face, looking like it was absolutely normal to be in a windowsill five stories up. Seeing her was almost like seeing a ghost.

She slipped into the apartment with her usual ease and stalked over to Kim like a hunting cat. There was no noise accompanying her movements, even her clothing was silent, but that was possibly because the casual green top and black pants hugged her perfect form so well. She noted for the first time that the air seemed breathable in the apartment, and her lungs did not feel ready to collapse in on themselves. She leaned down, trapping Kim between her arms and resting her palms against the top of the sofa.

For the first time in a long time, the beige couch was soft under her touch. It did not cause her anxiety, like any inanimate objects around the apartment used to do. How had she even lived like that? Who was she kidding, that was not living. That was barely existing. For Kim. All for Kimmie.

"Shego…?" Kim asked as if she did not know who it was that was right in front of her.

"I figured it would take you some time to recognize me since you got so used to staring at that bitch in my skin," she remarked, smirk still in place. She was like a fox that had a secret.

Usually, Kim would have made a comment about that being a redundant or something like that, but right now she was speechless. Her throat was dry, her voice on vacation, and her brain could not even recall what verbal language was. She could only stare with wide, amazed eyes.

"You look like you've seen a ghost," she quipped with a laugh. It was hearty, yet nearly cruel for no other reason than to show she could once again laugh wickedly.

"Why… why are you here?" Kim asked in a whisper, her eyes trained on Shego.

She knew why Kim would ask such a thing. Why should she return after Kim caused her so much suffering? Mainly because Kim was right. Hell, Ron was right so long ago, not that she would ever come right out and say that. She needed to be herself. Besides, she had actually done it all to herself. She was the one to blame. But, there was no way in hell she would say that aloud. She was back and that was that.

"Don't I live here?" she countered, managing to sound arrogant with that question. It felt so good to be sarcastic and pushy again.

"Yes…" Kim answered hesitantly, as if expecting a trick. Apparently, Shego recalled her life while she was a shadow of her former self. Kim really had not expected or thought of that. It did not really occur to her because she had never been affected by the Attitudinator or its modified version. It was Kim's turn to be afraid, waiting to find out just how Shego would play things out.

"Then why shouldn't I be here?" she continued on. Fuck "should." She wanted to be there, which was why she was there. She did what she wanted.

Kim did not have a response for that. She obviously knew, which was why that smirk came out, growing more devilish by the second. Kim did not waver under the inspection. This was familiar, but seemed so long ago.

"I think I'll stay if that's your answer," she commented.

"Stay?" Kim echoed like she did not know what the term meant. Shego wanted to stay with her, even though she seemed to be back to normal?

"I live here, don't I? Why shouldn't I stay? Now, why don't you tell me what you missed so much about me?" she seemed to be teasing, but she was quite curious. Kim should have loved that shell, yet Kim desired to have her back. The shell could not help giving into her love's wish, so now she was back. But, what was so missed?

"It wasn't your teasing, I'll tell you that much," Kim stated, trying to get back into her rhythm now. They were normal now, right? They needed to be normal.

"Oh, but wasn't I a tease then? I think you like me that way," Shego commented, her mouth dangerously close to Kim's. She could feel the warmth of Kim's breath on her face, finding it as she did before her change: comforting. The closeness felt genuine and she could swear their hearts beat as one. That was real. It was no shell, no lie.

Shego leaned down and claimed Kim's lips in a way that only she could as a whole. It was gentle, yet passionate. It burned, but caressed at the same time. It was like magma, but also warm water. They crashed like rogue waves, but blended like artist sands, like always. They moaned together, swallowed the sound, and pressed on until the need to breathe consumed and parted them.

They stared at each other. The air was still and warm, but seemed embracing now. She reached out and ran her hand down Kim's soft cheek. They both felt so much more appreciation for the simple touch now than they were did before.

Sure, she might sting and bite, but it was not nearly as painful as either of them had anticipated. Besides, Kim had tough skin. Kim could sting and bite back, too. And, now she could build defenses to protect herself, too. They would clash, collide, withdraw, and then regroup as one. That was how they were. That was how they were supposed to be.

This was right. This was real. This was whole.

-8-8-8-8-

The end.

Thanks for reading.