A/N: I'm very sorry for the long wait, but my life is kinda busy right now. School, inheritance, friends (and FFXIII can be blamed, too, at least this month), it made finding time to write difficult. But I'm still eager and up for the fight, so don't worry, this is nowhere near abandonded. I hope I can get more done during the school holidays. Long story short, thank you very much for keeping on reading and have fun with the next chapter!

7. Down The Rabbit-Hole

______________

Two out of four people felt quite out of place inside the Go tower. After exchanging greetings, Trish and Lesley had been very quiet and just followed Ron and Aron up the many stairs, which the GJ intern had deemed their 'first real exercise', meaning that the two youths were panting and sweating once they had reached the higher levels. It didn't help that they were dressed for the rapidly cooling weather: Thick cloaks, warm shoes and scarfs, only the mittens and hats were yet absent. It was a wonder no steam erupted from their cocoon once they opened the zippers.

"Remind me again why we had to walk fully clothed?" Lesley gasped once he had loosened the scarf around his neck. His pale cheeks were spotted with red and sweat ran down his brow.

"It's all part of the training, believe me. Come on, you don't want to tell me a few easy stairs are enough to make you surrender?" Aron replied with an evil twinkle in his unnatural eyes, his normal fake brown contact lenses absent today, so that the color was giving his gaze an odd heightened intensity.

"Not surrender, but darn near close," the carrot head grumbled, finally free from one layer of cloth.

Ron, still in surprisingly good shape after the climb, stepped near. "Hey Aron, how come you can use the tower entrance? Did Team Go get your Glow an limitless-free-ride entry card?" He pointed to the young man's hands, that had gained them entry in the huge building. The dark-skinned man had placed his activated Glow on a touchpad, gaining surprised stares from all who surrounded him, though Trish and Lesley had been more interested in the flickering, flame-like aura than the fact that he could waltz just like that into a superhero hideout.

Aron placed both hands on his hips and grinned. "GJ is working together with Team Go and the whole agenda is lead by my name. It would only make sense that, as a spokesperson, I have full entry to the training facilitys. I still can't get into the highest floor, which makes sense, since that's their personal area."

"Man, and you're still just an intern. Maybe joining GJ wouldn't have been so bad."

"Not just an intern. It's called intern, but I'm actually already in the programm to become the next agent on mission. You could call this my... admission test. But let's change the topic, there are more important things than listening to my bragging, as much as I'd love to." He winked at Ron, earning himself a chuckle.

Trish, who was just hanging up her jacket and trying to get her ponytail back in order, joined them, closely followed by a slightly peeved Lesley. "Oh, I would love to hear about it. I never heard of Global...Justice, was it?.. before meeting you. It sounds exciting, a whole organization dedicated to fighting crime in the world. And you're a real agent?" She smiled bashfully at him.

Aron patted her shoulder with a nice smile. "You bet I am. GJ has just recently started to show more presence in the world instead of staying a secret underground organization, thanks to the politicial pressure from the countrys, so it's still new for most people... but I'll tell you more about it in a quiet minute," he added, when he saw her eyes light up again at the 'secret underground organization'. "Now it's time for some work. Let's get changed. Come on, I'll show you the rooms. After that we start with the warm-ups until Kim gets here."

___________

"You wanted to talk to me? Is something the matter?" Kim asked after shaking hands with the head of GJ. They were in Dr. Directors office room, where said woman had stood up the same moment a blonde secretary had led Kim through the door. Indicating the young hero to take a seat in front of her desk, Dr. Director did the same after fetching a thin folder.

"There is no trouble, if you're thinking that. At the moment everything is running quite smoothly and with most of the villains behind bars, at least for a while, it should stay that way for some time. You did extraordinary work, Ms. Possible, as always."

Blushing at the rare compliment from the stoic woman, Kim bowed her head. "Thank you, Dr. Director. I'm just trying to do what I can best, let's just hope the quiet holds for a while."

"And how is your studying getting along?"

I'm sure you already know all about that, down to the mistakes of my latest test, but..oh well. "Very well actually. It's stressful, but very interesting; I'm very glad I already choose my major up front or I would have a hard time deciding what to do," the bright young woman answered with a smile.

The one-eyed agent nodded and with just the flick of her wrist, which opened the folder in front of her, Kim knew the topic was closed. After she had refused GJs offer to join them they hadn't asked again, which she was thankful for, but she knew an open door would always be waiting for her in the not-so-secret-anymore organisation.

"Miss Possible, as I was told you are aware of Agent Ashbys recent project, am I correct?" Kim affirmed with a quick nod and the doctor went on. "Since you will be in close contact with him during that, I would like to ask a favor from you, as well as give you a warning."

"How can I help?" the redhead asked in a serious voice and Dr. Director had to smile a little at Kim's ever helping hand, a trait that hadn't dimished after years of world saving as a teenager. Kim's refusal to join them had been sad, but not overly surprising.

"Mr. Ashby is known as an agent to this house, even though still in training, but not as an 'agent on mission'. That is what we call our full members. His request to create a team that works in collaboration with Team Go is exactly the kind of initiative we expect from our youngest members as a step towards full commitment, although most of them don't start so... unique. And since it is our agenda to show more presence in the active day to day crime, Agent Ashbys plans are quite in tune with GJs happenings. If he succeeds, the new team will be a great addition to our force and will secure that he gets very far in his job."

Kim smiled wryly and thought of the shameless charmer, who was probably already chasing the two superpowered youths across the training hall. "Yes, I think he really comes after his father, career-wise. Both are men who want to reach the top."

"And they both have everything they need to do it," Dr. Director added pointedly. "As I already said when you two first met, he is very promising, so we already promoted him from junior trainee to intern and he's just one step away from becoming a full agent after a mere six months. His grades are excellent, his athletic ability scored the highest in his youth group and the one above and he is pure leadership material. So I'm asking you, Ms. Possible, to keep a close eye on his doings."

Seeing Kim's surprised look, she went on. "Let me explain: His ascent on the career ladder is too fast and too soon. I want to know if I can lay the lives of more experienced agents in the hand of one who is only 19 years old. But on the other side I can't withheld the promotions he rightfully earned, not with his track record and most of the younger members in full support of him. In the eyes of our members he is starting to become the perfect agent and some already believe he has high chances of taking the seat as the next leader of GJ once I decide to retire. I need someone neutral watching him, someone who can ease my fears that he might evolve into something which hurts the organisation I believe and trust in."

Surprised at Dr. Directors earnest honesty in her need for help, Kim mulled the situation over in her head. She didn't believe that Aron was out to hurt GJ in any sense, but just like the woman in front of her, Kim also had the inkling that there was a little 'but' in Aron's seemingly perfect appearance, although she couldn't put her finger on what it was. Remembering the two times in which Aron's demeanor had scratched her the wrong way, she vowed to keep a closer eye on her instincts. He is a good agent, no doubt. Let's find out if he's a good person, too.

"I can see what you're getting at," Kim finally answered. "But I don't think he's a mole or anything of that kind. He seems to really care about his job and he puts much effort into raising this new team. But I will watch his doings more closely from now on, just in case that there still might be something wrong. After all, no ones perfect."

"But it's possible.."

"..for a Possible," the younger woman ended with a laugh. "Although I don't believe I'm perfect. Just very good at all I'm doing. Well, except cooking and leading a football team, that is." Pushing some hair behind her ear with a sheepish expression, she smiled back at the impressive head of GJ. "So, you said something about a warning?"

Turning the pages of the folder, the one-eyed woman nodded and let her eye scim over the written page in front of her. "Yes, it's something which might help you with your 'task'. After I started getting suspicions, I got myself his psychological file, and there is one or two things I would like to point out to you."

Realizing now that the file in front of Dr. Director belonged to Aron, Kim fidgeted on her chair, uncomfortable with the notion of getting a direct look at what should be private material. She wasn't fond of the idea of snooping around in what was someones mind laid bare, without them knowing and allowing it beforehand. Before she could say anything, Dr. Director held up a hand as if sensing her distress.

"Don't worry, I will only put into words what is neccessary for you. There is no need for you to read anything of the file." After a hesitating nod, the head of GJ looked across the text again, before closing the folder and placing her folded hands on top of it. Heaving a small sigh that told stories about her indecision about the overall subject, the older woman started talking again.

"As I already said, Agent Ashby is a man who knows what he wants. He is ambitious...very ambitious." Stressing the second to last word, she lowered her eye at Kim. "But everyone with a good knowledge of human nature can see that. What is more interesting is the doctors concern with his sense of right and wrong. Other than you, Ms. Possible, who can point out some of the shades of gray with a mercyful hand, Mr. Ashby is very caught up in his sense of justice. Which turns out to be very black and white, if you allow me to say it that way. Coupled with his strong ambitions, he might do things he himself deems as just, but which simply have gotten entangled with his need to raise on top. I am hopeful that with being in close proximity to you, he might learn a different way of seeing the world."

Raising her eyebrows just a little, Kim leaned back. "So you think I will be a good influence on him?" the girl half-stated, half-asked.

"Either that, or you two might start walking two very seperate roads at some point. And things could turn ugly from there. But when push comes to shove, I trust your personal opinion a lot more than that of a young man with us since mere 6 months, at least inoffically. Offically, if Mr. Ashbys perfect role model shell turns out to have a rotten core, it will take time and effort to ensure he doesn't get my seat, since not everyone at GJ values your opinion like I do."

Still vaguely shocked about the praise the generally stone cold woman was heaping on her, Kim clasped her hands on her knees and thought the situation over. She would be, for that was the core of the whole request, spying on Aron. That in itself didn't sit well with her, but after hearing Dr. Directors troubles, she understood that it was for a very important reason. Global Justice, as the name said, was a big, influencial organization and just imagining the wrong person steering it's reins... it was no pretty thought. So, even while a small part of her still screamed treason at her for her decision, she couldn't very well say No after Dr. Director herself had asked for a personal favor. And really, it wasn't as if Kim would start digging in Aron's personal belongings. She just needed to keep an eye open.

"I'll do it," Kim finally said to the quiet GJ head and stopped for a second to get a feel for the decision she made. Her instincts didn't start raising an alarm, so maybe it was right that she had accepted the task. "But I will include Ron and Wade in the task."

Seeing Dr. Director relax in a way only Kim and other people that knew the one eyed woman would call 'relaxing', the redhead decided that it was a good thing. She had a great deal of respect for the older woman and knew she would never ask something of her that would go against Kim's morals.

Nodding acceptingly, Dr. Director leaned back in her seat and closed her eye, which could stare down people a lot better than the two functional ones on the majority of all human beings. Kim wondered if having only one eye doubled the natural authority a person held over others or if it really was a character thing.

"Thank you, Ms. Possible. This will ease my troubles quite a lot."

Catching her tongue before the "No Big" could slip out, Kim smiled instead. I'm really to old for that phrase, am I? "Alright, do you need anything else from me?"

"If you are wondering about our research for the other Glow users...we have yet to find anything new. I admit that we aren't searching with high priority, but it's still up and running. All trails we found turned out be wrong leads or had turned cold ages ago. There is that matter about Sasha Mahoney, but we have yet to find her... it's as if she vanished from the face of earth."

Holding in her shock about GJs lack of knowledge about Sashas whereabouts, Kim just remembered that she hadn't told Aron about it either. I'll keep it to myself for the moment, maybe I can still change her mind. Once that doesn't work, I'll tell Aron. And that's just the same as telling GJ.

"Just tell me if you find anything, but I'm guessing that our luck has run out for the time being. We'll watch out for any hints, though," Kim answered diplomatically, not wanting to lie or refuse a direct question about the topic concerning the missing woman.

Nodding, Dr. Director slowly started to lift herself from her seat, signaling the coming end of the conversation. As the most important being in the complex she probably was busy enough as it was. "Do that, I'm sure Mr. Ashby will keep both sides updated. Thank you again for accepting my request."

Standing up quickly, the young hero shook the offered hand. "I'm happy if I can help and it's not something that will keep me very busy, since I'm going to met with him regularly anyway. I'm heading there right now, actually."

"Then I don't want to delay you any longer. Have a nice day, Ms. Possible."

Sitting in the jet GJ had kindly reserved for her, Kim still thought the whole matter over. Calling her task spying was a bit drastic, since all she had to do was keep an eye open. She just hoped for both sides concerned that Aron was simply a little bit high strung about his duties as a soon-to-be agent; that the cracks she had sensed in his brave knight armor were simply the human flaws everyone showed from time to time, even herself. It wasn't hard to imagine what the younger agents did: Aron in a pristine uniform, straight posture, charming smile, the perfect example to any good GJ worker. He would look good on the seat in Dr. Directors room and she could see him handling orders and problems with the same smooth air of competence that Dr. Director had.

But would that which seemed to be there add up with what was there? Looks like only time will tell. Let's see what Ron has to say about it... but I guess he'll still be a bit swayed by his buddy-relationship with Aron.

That turned her thoughts to another Glow user and made her furrow her brows. And then there's Sasha. This is another big problem all in itself. It wouldn't be easy to sway the woman towards the right side of justice. Getting her home didn't seem an option after Ron had told her about Sasha's absolute refusal to go back to her mother. But she's an adult, there's no need to get her back home. At least not right away.

Knowing that she couldn't solve all problems in the world caused Kim to sigh. The Mahoneys personal problems would be something she had to keep her nose out of, but getting Sasha away from crime had good chances of succeding. Maybe she just needed to get the woman to talk to her alone for a moment. If only I had found her first that day... I guess Shego saw the news and was just a bit quicker in finding her out on the street than Ron and I... she got lucky that time. But that doesn't mean she won the war. I wonder what she wanted with Sasha? Another fighter for their side or was she just curious? I guess the fact that there are other superpowered people with abilities that should have been restricted to her family is a bit more personal for her than for us.

Wondering about Shego's mindset about the whole situation kept her from realising that the jet had landed on top of the Go tower and she had to be jerked aware by the impatient pilot. Saying a quick thanks and hopping out of the plane, the redhead made her way to the training rooms. Mego opened the door for her via the panel, since she was unable to open the Glow controlled door from the outside. Entering the training hall she just needed a second to find her lanky boyfriend standing at the side, watching the three others doing their training program.

"Cheating yourself out of the training?" Kim asked with a twinkle in her eyes when she made her way over.

Ron snorted, crossing his arms. "I'm at least three times fitter than those two, even if I can hardly believe it myself. All the running around on missions seems to have done at least some good. They are going through the basics and Aron asked to watch and help, so I won't bore myself to death."

Waving upwards to Mego, who was sitting behind the glass wall and inside the control rooms with his interestedly watching twin brothers, she activated a button on her Kimmunicator, which would keep other people from listening in, in a small bout of paranoia. "Look, Ron, I just talked to Dr. Director.."

Quickly summing up what had happened, Ron listened with what was an unusual seriousness. Only Kim knew that her boyfriend had started to get his random acts of overreacting a slightly bit more under control once he had begun training as a veterinarian, meaning that he could sit still and listen when it was really needed. Most other times he still had his head in the clouds, though. When Kim was finished, his shoulders slumped, reminding her of when he had been five years old.

"Aww man... and I thought Aron was such a cool guy. I mean, he's like totally agent-y and all that when he wants to be. And other times he's just that easy, smart boy. And he likes me! I never had a cool person that likes me, you know."

"I don't think agent-y is a real word," Kim started in a gentle tone, while laying an arm around his shoulders, "and I don't think you need to worry that much yet. It's just a precaution, right? Even Dr. Director says he has all he needs to be a good agent. There's just a lot depending on him being a really good guy, so even if he has a small problem with ambition or anything like that, we can help him fix it, don't you think?"

Smiling up at her from beneath his blond bangs, Kim could see him mentally lifting himself up. "Yeah, your right." He quickly hugged her back. "Maybe it's not so bad to know Aron's still just a normal person like you and me. Were all on the same level here. Well, apart from the fancy Glow stuff."

"Did he ask anything about Sasha?"

"Naa, he was busy coaching the two 'rookies' over there, as he likes to call them. You should've seen that. He's really demanding, but still a good teacher." Towards Rufus on his shoulder he mumbled, "Mr. Barkin would've loved him."

The mole rat shook himself in disgust.

"Let's keep that information to ourselves for the moment. I want to try to get her back at least once more of her own free will before we head there with the cavalry. I suspect Shego would gleefully beat them to a pulp." Wincing at the image, Kim watched Lesley and Trish sweating and panting after the tenth push-up.

"And I reaaally want to spare them meeting up with that witch as long as possible. Been there, got the t-shirt." Ron shuddered, he knew that even with superpowers of their own all three of them would get quite a shock when getting to know the fighting fury that was Shego, even with Kim there to keep her somewhat busy. "She would eat them for breakfast. And lunch. And maybe even dinner."

"So it's settled then. We'll try to make Sasha see that a life of crime isn't really the greatest idea. If anyone knows that she's with Drakken and Shego right now, the police would only get more suspicious than they already are."

Ron scrunched up his face in realisation. "Oh, right. They are still searching for her because of that 'psychic bomb', aren't they? Once they get wind of her being a criminal right now, it will be a lot harder to proof that she's most probably innocent."

"Yeah," Kim said with a note of worry, "I really don't believe she did that willingly. Maybe her brother's death triggered something inside of her and then...she lost control."

They were silent for a while, remembering the surveillance video where the missing woman had caused the still ongoing coma of twenty-seven unsuspecting people. If willingly or not...that was still up in the air, even if they believed her to be innocent. After Aron had finally given up on trying to get Lesley to do another push-up half a hall away, Ron snapped out of his daze.

"So when will we get to met the last Glow user? Shouldn't she be here today?"

The redhead blinked at her partner. "Uh...actually...I think she's arriving any min-.."

At that point, all movement in the room got interrupted by the slamming of a door hitting the wall. Turning their heads to the side in surprise, they could see a young woman with tanned skin and long, golden blond hair marching into the hall, dressed stylishly in what could only be called upper class training clothes in yellow and orange and carrying a modern handbag. She held her head high, placed her free hand on her hip and sneered at the people her angry gaze caught.

"Great, I'm going to work with a loser group. I thought you said we'd be a winning team of fame and fortune, Ashby, not a sweaty group of some whiny looking emo and a feeble carrothead. And there's even a badly dressed hero and her buffoon sidekick. Don't let me get started on Team God No."

"Darn it, it's Ron! Ron! How can three letters be so hard to remember?!"

Kim only groaned when she met the sky blue eyes turned ice that reminded her so well of someone she thought she would never have to met again. Please, please, please to whoever God listens.

Not a second Bonnie!

_______________

"Anything noteworthy?" Shego asked and inspected the bluish x-ray showing the skeleton of a hand with a keen eye. Turning her head to the side when the image didn't give her any more informations, she prodded her opposite to speak with a raised eyebrow.

"I'm sorry to say this, dear, but I fear I don't have any spectacular news for you."

Shego watched the small doctor walking closer to the x-ray; he pointed out the specific places where the injury had been with his pen. "Six stitches, starting from between thumb and forefinger and ending inside the hand. There will be scar tissue, since both ends of the cut were frayed." The villainess frowned at the mention of the scar tissue for reasons only Dr. Rimus knew had nothing to do with sympathy. "We pulled the stitches after two weeks, by now she should already be able to use her hand freely again."

"So?"

"So." Both already knew the conclusion to this meeting, but the doctor spelled it out anyway. "No enhanced healing abilities, the healing factor is simply slightly better than average thanks to a healthy lifestyle. But there is nothing remotely close to your Glow benefits. Average healing, average reflexes, average stamina, although I had to applaud that she is quite healthy and fit for a person her age, even if she claims to dislike white change on her body is giving me some trouble, though.. it seems to be some kind of mutation, but I need more time to look at it."

After hearing the truth about the matter, Shego couldn't help but feel... disappointed. When she had flown out to gather the so-called Glow user she had seen on the news, a small part had been hoping that Sasha would make a good fighter. The meteor powers did grant the green woman accelerated healing and heightened all abilities you needed in a fun tussle, so why shouldn't the same apply to the new kid? Maybe the black and white Glows the younger woman kept in her body were much more different than she had initially believed them to be. Maybe I can still whip her into an acceptable back-up fighter. Even Junior managed to hold his own once he really started to take interest in my lessons.

"Did you keep an eye on her?" Dr. Rimus asked and ripped the villainess out of her drifting thoughts. "It's been a month now, so I think she should be starting to settle into the normal lair life. I'm still quite worried that the young lady took the whole situation harded than we might think.."

"Sure," was the quick, distracted reply and Shego didn't know if the good-natured doctor could hear her lying through her teeth. "I look how she's doing from time to time." That, at least, was half the truth. She did stumble across the young woman here and then when she was near Drakken's laboratory or on her way to the kitchen, but the villainess didn't go out of her way to look after the rookie. Most times Shego hadn't been at the lair anyway, rather spending the time she wasn't needed out on the shore, shopping, partying the night away or doing anything else besides working. It wasn't as if Drakken cared if she was there or not as long as he was in his planning stage. And with Sasha keeping him company he didn't even need her for his ranting phases, where he would call her from god knows where at god knows when just to have someone sit near by and listen to his endless speeches.

The small man squinted his soft brown eyes at her. "I see. And?"

"She's doing fine. Dandy. The goons and her get along well, Drakken's happy for the attention and I'm glad for more me-time. It's all sunshine and roses and that shit." Rolling her eyes at the older man clearing his throat when she used the curse word, Shego released her folded arms and placed her hands on her hips. "Are we finished?"

"Of course, Miss Impatience-in-person, go on your merry way, there are people who's bloodied noses I have to mend. Ring a bell?" He cocked an eyebrow at her, an amused smile curling his lips.

"They were especially slow today," the green woman drawled, fluttering her eyes in mock innocence. Wednesday training at morning with the henchmen was a fun way to demonstrate that filling your nails and pummeling guys at the same time was indeed possible. "Not my fault if they keep attacking me from odd angles. A fair woman has to defend herself, hm?"

"Try giving them a warning next time, dear."

Scoffing at the ridiculous notion, she waved his words off with her hand while simultaniously leaving the room through the hissing door. If they actually decided to train once a day, they wouldn't have to run to the doctor crying every time I try to make them do more than run at the enemy with flailing arms. A smirk grew on her face when she remembered a particular scene where one of the smaller, lighter guys had tried to kick her in the backside of her knee. At least one of the smarter moves today. Although it had ended with him buried under three of his much heavier colleagues, since she had nicked the nail of her middle finger with the file while jumping over his foot.

Let's have a look at the freak duo in the laboratory. Strutting through the dull lair floors with half her mind on more important matters, like what to wear Friday night or how to counter a specific move by the annoying redhead, Shego almost didn't realize that the sound of fighting was penetrating her ears. Stopping short, she strained her ears to listen more closely.

The sound of a punch hitting flesh. Someone male crying out in hurt. A body hitting the wall or ground with a grunt. Scuffling and feet shuffling across the room. Then Drakken, who cried out in annoyed protest at whatever happened in front of his eyes, followed by a pained "No!" from Sasha.

Almost becoming a blur from the burst of speed that erupted from Shego's body, the green woman hardly felt her feet touch the ground when flying past the rooms across the sides. Determination and battle lust caused her blood to rush faster and her heart to thrum harder, her body humming with the familiar feel of adrenalin and anticipation, mixed with the softer touch of dread of not knowing what was happening at her destination. Team Possible? Hardly. Was it GJ? Or maybe even WWEE? Maybe even an organization she hadn't yet heard from, or worse, the army. But why? With the exeption of their last heist the whole lair had been laying low since quite a while. Was it her own fault for not being sneaky enough when out on vacation? Or were they coming to get Sasha? Thousands of What Ifs ran through her mind.

Sliding around a corner, Shego dashed down the hallway, the double doors of the laboratory opening quickly to let the running woman inside, who was poised to attack and tear apart the first intruder with the bad luck of crossing her way...

You GOTTA be kidding me!

No intruders. No hurting comrades. No fight. At least, no real fight. Feeling stupid as hell, the fuming villainess lowered her raised claws and, gritting her teeth, stared daggers at the two people sitting on the floor about ten feet away.

They were playing a game. A freaking combat game. Each one armed with a controller, Dr. Drakken's and Sasha's eyes were glued to one of the big screens atop the machine panels, while the two virtual fighters fought with the volume raised to an almost ear-shattering level.

"Curse you! I almost won this one!" Drakken shouted, small fingers pushing the controller's buttons with vigour at random.

His opponent let out a small, lilting laugh when the winner screen showed up. "No way. I still had half my life when you went down!" Feeling watched, the younger woman threw a look over her shoulder, smiling slowly. "Oh, good day, Shego."

"Shego!" Drakken turned around, not quite managing to get his legs out of the tangle they were in. "Care to join us? After my genius was in a low, this girl had the brilliant idea to introduce me to the world of virtual gaming! A fine move, I must say, I can literally feel my brain cells reacting to the stimulus!"

"Or maybe they are quivering in agony at the constant losing. You should be used to it," the thief growled out between clenched jaws.

"He's better at the shooters," Sasha threw in helpfully.

The blue man huffed in annoyance. "Well, I take that as a No then." Grabbing the controller again, he turned back around, eyes glittering with maniac glee. "There is still a game I have to win!" Pushing a button, the duo was quickly captivated by the action on screen again, oblivious to Shego's raising agitation.

"Sure, whatever. Go and play until your brain explodes through your eyes, what do I care." Turning around to stomp out of the laboratory with flaming hands, the villainess almost didn't catch the comment directed her way.

"I made some breakfast for you, if you're hungry. It's in the kitchen," Sasha said with most of her attention directed elsewhere, not looking anywhere but upwards at the fight while her fingers mashed the buttons. Drakken tried to keep up, looking like a six year old with his tongue poking out at the side and his eyes squinting.

Huffing and throwing some hair over her shoulder, Shego didn't dignify the words with a response. A game! Of all things! She guessed it had to be the console the henchmen kept in the lounge, but with hardly anyone playing it during the day, Shego wasn't used to the sound of it. She should have waited a few more seconds before running of to try and safe her stupid boss and his yet still useless new sidekick, maybe then she would have realized sooner that it couldn't be a real fight. Her trained warrior responses had been faster, though.

That teaches me a lesson, the green woman thought with a scowl, ripping open the door to the kitchen. The odor of freshly baked pancakes assaulted her nose, distracting her angry mind for a moment. Now, if that doesn't smell good. True to Sasha's words there was a dish filled with at least half a dozen of the sweet threats; jugs filled with maple syrup, chocolate and other tasty toppings right next to it. Now she remembered the empty plates that had been standing next to the two gamers.

Sasha must have found out from the henchmen that the doctor's sidekick was back from vacation and ready to get back to their weekly training (which had been acknowledged with a lot of groaning and whining). But why cook something for the blue boy and her? If it's good I'm not complaining. Saves me the trouble to change and get something down in the city, since there is no amount of money that could get me to eat that grub in the cantine.

Drenching the pancakes with the syrup, she grabbed some cutlery and milk and marched back towards her rooms, deciding that a little sugar to start the day would improve her mood tremendously. It was like an unspoken peace offering for her useless quick start run, so when the door clicked shut behind her, the thief was sufficiently calmed down. Deciding to be a bit decadent, she sat down on her bed and carefully placed the milk on her night table and the plate on her lap. A second before the fork could hit the delicious breakfast, her body froze.

An unbidden thought.

How long has it been since someone made me breakfast?

Years.

15 years.

Flashes of memories forced themself into her mind's eye. She remembered her mother's face, her brother's laugh. They had eaten hashed eggs, toast and roasted ham. Her father had already gone to work, Hego had overslept. It had been such a normal, average day. She had refused to think about it, about anything at all close to it for exactly 15 years. Making breakfast had been her job from that day on and she had refused to ever look back to a time where it had been different.

Forcing down everything of her past just as quickly as it had erupted, Shego pondered life's funny ways. Strange how something simple like a meal in the morning can first safe a day and then ruin it all over again.

Before the thief started on her pancakes, she carefully closed and checked each and every lock placed onto her past memories, hidden behind strong doors of will and denial. Once she was satisfied that all traces of her old self were forced away, she placed a slice of the sweet dish into her mouth.

It wouldn't do to waste something tasting this good, she thought and never looked back to her slip-up.

______________

"Sasha, look! It's a froggy!"

Deep blue eyes twinkled at her, wide and big. The smile on his child-like face was so happy and captivating, that her initial fear about slimy amphibians calmed down towards youthful curiousness. "Lemme see!" she screamed in a high voice, scrambling across the grass nodes towards her giddy brother.

"Here, sssh!" Carefully he brought his hands forming a round hollow towards her, slowly opening them to the sides. Both children stared in awe at the little, moss-green creature inside, sitting peacefully on the human skin as if it were a rock hidden between blades of freshly grown grass.

"It's so small," Sasha whispered with wonder, but not with the courage to touch the small thing with the big golden-black eyes. It was fascinating to watch it's body take measured breaths, but the shiny sheen across it's skin made her shy away.

"I want to show it to daddy," Gwyn said happily, distracted enough that the black strands hanging into his line of vision didn't attract his attention like usual, when he would huff and puff them out of the way. She snickered at the green and brown blotches covering his clothes. He looked as if he had just taken a roll down the entire meadow they were standing in.

"Mommy's going to kill you, you're dirty."

"You're dirtier! And there's icky stuff in your hair." Sticking out his tongue at his gasping sister, he started running, laughing all the way when he saw that the horrified girl patted her head in search of the substance, until the second she realized that she had been fooled.

Screaming in protest at his roaring laugther, she took after him and his infectious smile, spying her mother and father walking calmy along the road ahead. She could see them turn, smile at them and then watch as her father raised his hands to wave, before the memory faded away.

Sasha blinked and then squinted her eyes at the reflection in the mirror. She pulled down the lower eyelid of her right eye, carefully leaning nearer to the clear surface. The intense blue color that stared back at her, surrounded by too many splotchy and thick red veins, was foreign and disturbing, like it was some unknown appendage and... not part of her body. And it wasn't... just that it was. I'm starting to confuse myself here. Scrunching up her nose, she turned her head to the side, enough that her 'not-quite-part-of-her' eye could watch her own face warily.

Reaching up with one hand, she rubbed at a spot on her temple where white skin turned into natural tan. The line was uneven, but very distinct, like someone had cruelly splashed a handful of waterproof white paint at her, staining the skin permanently. The color wasn't simply that of paleness, of staying out of the sun for a more than unhealthy amount of time - no, it was as if the melanin in her skin had simply changed from dark to white instead of vanishing. She wondered if her freckles would vanish, too, once the stuff spread across her face.

Let's hope that doesn't happen, I really don't want to look like a walking hospital wall. Curling a snow-colored strand of hair around her finger, she marveled at the pureness of it. Every single hair at that spot had changed, turning from raven to a lighter, fuller shade than any artificial bleaching could accomplish. Sasha remembered a snow owl she had seen in an animal park as a kid and how she had been in awe of the beautiful, soft white feathers she had been allowed to touch carefully. Then she remembered brushing Gwyn's wonderful disturbing white hair and shuddered, quickly taking her hand away.

...it doesn't fit me. And it only reminds me of bad things. Pushing herself away from the mirror she had been leaning so closely towards, the run-away took one last glance at the person in it, contemplating her silently.

After all these years I still don't know who you are and if I like you or not. But it seems that we two are stuck together. Sad, bi-colored eyes answered in solemn silence to her mind's words. The irregular sleep was starting to wear her a tad down and the bangs under her eyes weren't pretty. Maybe Dr. Rimus can help me, she thought and pinched her cheeks to get some life into them.

Quickly stripping out of what she called 'Borrowed set number 4', Sasha placed the clothes on the side before stepping into the shower. She still hadn't been able to gather up the nerve for a trip home to collect her things, instead wearing and washing the red henchmen outfits every few days. No one complained and no one asked, so the need to wear her own clothes hadn't been strong. But it was starting to grow.

The nightmares, the constant time of having nothing to do, the lack of personal belongings, it all was starting to get to her. While her hands busied themselves with turning the water stream to the right temperature, her mind was running miles and miles around the same old doubts that started to plague her more with every day she spent at the lair. It had been about a month since Shego had gathered her from the street after running away from... Gwyn.

He would be buried under the earth by now. Dead and lifeless and pretty in his whiteness and suit. She would never be able to gaze at his face again, which was so similar and still altogether different to her own.

The realization that she would never be able to ever see him again, hear him again, talk to him again, forced all air out of her lungs and made every rib and muscle in her torso hurt from the strong constriction. Cold flodded her veins, her body delving so deeply into shock that she didn't even have energy to shake. Unconciously grabbing the shelf her shower gel was placed on, her wide eyes stared unseeingly at a random white tile below her waist line.

"Oh god...Gwyn..."

"Sasha...Sasha, I am so, so sorry." His helpless gaze, the agony swimming in the summer sky blue iris. His last moments, his final words. The last time. The last time.

"He's gone.." she whispered, realization hitting her aching chest with the blow of finality. "Gwyn..." She shuddered, placing her hands on her face, on her eyes, on her neck, but nothing could stop the searing in her heart. When a loud sob racked her frame, her closed up throat rebelled against the quick intake of breath, forcing itself even more together. Another sob, more pain. Hurt that couldn't be healed by anything but time. It was the revenge for pushing away emotions and facts that should have been dealed with much, much sooner and not alone in a shower room, in a foreign room, in a lair filled with people she had no connection to.

And her mother? Standing alone at the grave filled with her favourite, yet dead child, her husband gone, her daughter running away like the coward she was. Eleanor had been right all the times she had called her daughter useless, foretelling the day she would have to do everything alone, the only one she could rely on being herself. Oh, how she wished to be close to her now, crying with her head on her mother's knees, like she had done as a child of mere three years. Back in the days when Eleanor hadn't shown her favoritism so painfully open.

What the hell am I doing here? the crying young woman asked herself in confusion, letting the sorrow and the hurt of missing her brother wash over her just like the warm spray of water. I don't belong here. But she wouldn't be welcome home either, would she?

Where do I belong now? ...You were home, Gwyn. My home.

Pressing against her temples, gasping and struggling for air between the convulsions of her ribcage, Sasha pushed her head under the water until the steady stream rushed past her ears and created a dull, thundering noise that drowned out everything: her thougths, the sound of her crying, the dead, the living, the world. It reminded her of the white noise blocking out all the horrible voices that had tortured her that fateful day.

She would have to get out of the shower eventually. But for now she craved the refugium the four spartanic walls offered away from the outside.

For now, she let it be her sanctuary.