DISCLAIMER: I do not own anything, and am not seeking to infringe upon the rights of anyone. All characters are copyright their respective copyright holders; any original characters are mine, any other characters belong to their respective parties.

Chapter One: In via ut fortuna…

Each one, and all of us, in turn,
In grace and glory, or in stumbling madness,
Must find our own way out of Hell,
One step at a time.

At Dr. Drakken's Evil Lair…

"Shego, there's someone at the door!" Dr. Drakken shouted. "Shego!"

"Yeah, yeah, keep your pants on, blue boy!" she called back, huffing her way to the door to the lair. She was wearing, uncharacteristically, a very lightweight pink t-shirt and boxers. Without checking to see who it was, assuming that it would be a delivery man with the pizza Dr. Drakken had ordered, she threw open the heavy door and snapped, "What do you want?"

"Well, good morning to you, too," said the person on the other side of the door.

"Betty," began Shego, exceptionally crossly, "what could be so important that you have to drag your ass out here on a weekend? I just got back from a trip; I haven't even done anything yet!"

"Kim's been taken," said the solemn voice of Dr. Director, "and as good as we are, this is the sort of thing we'd call Kimberly in to handle. As much as I hate to admit it, we don't have a lot in the way of subtle."

Shego's face twisted into a grotesque rage, her eyes glaring as if to burn a hole through the woman at the door. "You woke me up to get me to save Kimberly Ann Possible?" she shouted, attempting to guilt-trip Dr. Director with the not-so-carefully-crafted lie. She rubbed her brow, and slammed the door shut. She turned to walk away and heard through the door the muffled and almost indistinguishable sound of Dr. Betty Director shouting something to her. Against her better judgment, she opened the door again. "What did you say?"

"You heard me," said Dr. Director, smiling.

Shego crossed her arms angrily. "No, I didn't. That door, it's pretty fucking big, and it blocks a lot of sound, so just tell me what you said and get out of here."

"I'll give you a full pardon if you rescue Kim," she said, picking up a rolled-up piece of paper from the ground next to her and holding it out.

Shego snatched and examined it, reading every word written on it carefully. "Full pardon for me and blue in there, if and when I return Kimberly Ann Possible to you. Why do you think we'd go for that? We've already been pardoned, he's trying to take over the world, and I'm a thief," she said, adding a second later, "a very happy, very successful thief who loves her job."

"You were only pardoned in the US. This is a Global Justice pardon, which covers every country in the world with any legal system," Dr. Director said. "So even if you do go back, you'll at least be able to take a vacation first," she paused for a second, "well, one without worrying about someone trying to hunt you down."

Shego sighed. "Fine, but I want $10,000 US first, and if you screw me on this, I'll break into every Global Justice facility just to set off the self-destruct."

Dr. Director picked up a suitcase from behind her and opened it in front of Shego. "It is your standard service retainer. Welcome aboard, Agent Green."

The Next Day…

Shego adjusted her course aboard her jet and grumbled to herself, "Why did I get myself into this." As if to answer, the comm. screen in the dash alerted her to an incoming call. "I'm busy," she snapped as she answered it. The stern face of Dr. Director appeared on the screen, any disciplined look offset slightly by an eyebrow raised in skepticism. "Actually, as you can see, I'm not busy; it's just a euphemism for 'get the hell out of here.'"

"We've tracked her position, Greg" she replied, "and we're ready to send her coordinates to you." She turned her head and nodded to someone off screen, and turned back to Shego. "The coordinates should be on the screen now."

Shego turned her attention to several panels around her cockpit, adjusting the autopilot heading to the coordinates which were overlaid on the comm. screen. She turned back to the screen and spoke in mock-military style, "Coordinates set, requesting radio silence." Before Dr. Director had time to reply, she slammed the panel, shutting off the video feed.

She stood up, stretched her back, and walked into the cabin of the jet, where she'd arranged several sets of equipment. "You'll have to be prepared to provide emergency triage to Kim in the event that she has been harmed," she remembered Dr. Director saying before she'd left the lair. "We're fairly certain that there are more people in the facility, however the only one you'll need to rescue is Ms. Possible. If, from the good of your heart, you feel the need to rescue everyone, we'll consider extending the offer we made to you to encompass other… Benefits."

She sighed. 'Good of my heart my ass,' she thought to herself as she set up the medical equipment in preparation for her arrival at the facility in twenty minutes. 'She just wants me to do her job for her. What could she possibly offer me to make it worth risking my ass for any of them except…' She stopped thinking, stopped working, and carefully considered her next thoughts. 'Except Kim.' She suddenly felt a sharp wave of emotion wash over her, though she couldn't quite place exactly what it was that she was feeling. "Why am I feeling all sentimental over Princess?" she asked herself aloud as she returned to setting up the equipment. "Someone's going to get their ass kicked."

Her jet, complete with visible spectrum and thermal diffusion, gently lowered to the roof of the building. From the outside, it looked as though Shego had appeared out of thin air. She turned and smiled wryly at where her jet was sitting completely invisible, and thought, 'Dr. D. is so not getting his hands on this thing for any more missions.'

Shego looked over the edge of the landing pad, which was located on the top of a twenty-story tower in the middle of a business complex, trying to get a feel for the layout of the building. Dr. Director had told her the exact location of her target; fifteenth story, high-security lab, northeast corner of the building. 'High security means high stakes,' she thought to herself, 'maybe I can pick up a nice toy for Dr. D. After all, I am getting a full pardon.' Deciding against breaking through the wall on the proper floor, and against taking the elevator from the roof access, she went over to one of the ventilation shafts.

The vent shaft was very large, certainly large enough for her to negotiate even if she had to carry Kim out herself, and stuck up about four feet from the roof of the building. There was an equally-large fan covering the vent, with painfully-obvious laser sensors to detect intruders. She chuckled and lit up her hands; seeing the wires for the sensors going down the right side of the vent, she cut the other three walls, allowing the raised portion to be bent along its right wall, keeping the connections intact and giving her full access to the shaft.

Quietly, she climbed down into the ventilation system and made her way down to the fifteenth floor. She kicked out a vent and dropped into a hallway; all ventilation access directly into any of the rooms, even what she assumed were the offices, had been covered with three inch-thick grates, with a sensor net on either side. She looked down the hallway, and frowned in dismay; there were no windows and no labels on the doors. She spun around as a door closed behind her and grabbed the man who had just come through, putting her arm around his throat and her other hand over his mouth. He was relatively short, with short but frizzy blonde hair, moderately thick glasses, and a white lab coat. "Help me and I'll let you live," she said. He nodded quickly, panicked. "Good. Now, I want you to take me to Kim Possible."

He mumbled, and against her better judgment, she moved her hand. "Please don't hurt me, I have a family; I'll do whatever you want. Kim's on the left, our other candidate is on the right," he said.

Shego thought for a moment and asked, with painful intensity, "How many people are you holding in this facility?"

"Just two," he answered. "Candidate A, Kim Possible, is in the room on the left. Candidate B, Joanne Woodward, is on the right."

"What did you do to them?" Shego shouted.

"Outlook alteration," he said, still panicked. "We're trying to turn heroes into villains by exposing them to a continuous stream of negative influence."

Shego quickly spun the man around, kneed him in the groin, and bashed her fist into his face, knocking him out. "God damn mind control," she whispered. She took the key from his pocket and placed it in the lock, turning it silently. Wary of what may lay inside, she lit her hands and slowly opened the door to where the man had said Kim was being held. What she saw snapped something in her core.

The room itself was sterile and windowless. Kimberly Ann Possible was strapped to a chair, an IV dripping into her arm. Her eyes were held open, and every few seconds a drop would fall from overhead into her eyes. Her ears were covered by headphones, and she was being forced to stare at an array of screens.

Pure, blind rage filled Shego's eyes, and for the first time since she'd become a villain her flames engulfed more than just her hands. Her entire body began to glow with the trademark green flames, and, unable to hold it in any longer, she screamed. All of the flames around her body were launched forward toward the screens in a single, enormous ball. The screens disappeared, destroyed so totally that not even smoke remained. Seconds later, her body was engulfed again in flames, and again she screamed. This time, the blast from her left destroyed the machinery feeding Kim from above while that from her right destroyed the wall between her and the hallway, as well as the wall between the hallway and the other room. Relaxing slightly, began to remove Kim from the machine.

As Shego unstrapped one of Kim's arms, she realized that the girl was completely limp. "Princess," she said softly, "can you hear me?" Kim didn't respond. Shego removed the tubes in Kim's throat; Kim began to cough, which was enough to bring her into reality for a moment. She threw herself around, thrashing with as much force as she could manage in an attempt to force her way from the grip of her bindings, until, seconds later, she fell catatonic once again.

Shego picked up Kim and carried her into the other room, setting her down just inside the hole she made in the wall. The scene was the same; a girl, not much older than Kim, or, for that matter, younger than herself, was strapped to a demonic contraption designed to force into her mind wicked thoughts to rend cleanly in two what concepts of morality she may hold. This time, though, it wasn't a wild rage that filled Shego's eyes, but a calm, determined sense of things. In her eyes was the same look that Kim had before every fight; a clarity of right and wrong which was unwavering and impenetrable.

Once again she let green flames engulf her body, and once again she systematically dismantled the workings contaminating the girl. When only the chair remained, she unstrapped the girl, who, too, was unresponsive. Unlike Kim, however, she didn't even react when the tubes were pulled from her throat. She carried the girl over to Kim, and laid her on the ground as well.

'Great,' she thought to herself, 'now I've got two people to haul out of here, which means the vents are out. I can't manage to blast and climb my way up five floors with the dead weight, so looks like the elevator is the only way up. God I hope that doctor wakes up soon.' She emphasized his profession with a sense of disgust. As soon as she thought that, she heard the man stirring outside. 'Well, at least things seem to be in time.' She turned to grab him, and noticed a small video camera on a table by the hole. She grimaced at the thought of what had been taped, but grabbed the device anyway. She stormed out of the room and over to the guard, shoving the camera in his face as he lie on the floor in an attempt to recover from his previous ordeal. "What's on this tape?" she demanded with absolute rage.

"Sessions," he said, bluntly. "That is recorded video of every session of Subject B since day one. Everything that's happened since we brought her in is on that tape."

An Hour Later…

Shego threw a medical kit across the jet; every few minutes one of them would begin seizing, and she, lacking the means to strap them down, had to hold them down herself. The autopilot started beeping, and the jet slowly descended. As it did, Shego breathed a shallow sigh of deep relief. The rear hatch opened, and a Global Justice medical team stormed in, initially confused at the sight of two young women on the floor of the jet.

Dr. Director entered after the crew, with a look of satisfaction on her face as she looked at Shego, who had stepped off to the side to let the team have access to the two still-catatonic rescuees. "Thank you for bringing Kim back," she said with overemphasized sincerity, "and for bringing back another. How many were there in the facility?"

"Just the two, according to a scientist," Shego replied, watching as the medical team carried them out.

Dr. Director turned and looked at who had returned for the first time, and the dismay was evident on her face. "Ms. Woodward, one of our top recruits. She and Mr. Stoppable make quite a team," she said. "They must have taken her while she was on vacation. What were they doing to them, and did you manage to get any evidence?"

Shego thought for a moment, remembering the camera she'd left in the cockpit. "Brain washing," she replied bitterly. "And no, I didn't get any evidence."

Dr. Director sighed. "Alright," she said. One of the medical staff walked over to her and whispered something in her ear, and she rolled her eyes. "Excuse me, but there's been a bit of an incident. Apparently nobody checks their mail anymore…" She made gestures toward some of the personnel and they carried the two girls out on stretchers. Dr. Director turned around and walked out.

"And my reward?" Shego asked, loud enough for everyone to hear.

"I'll have it mailed to you tomorrow, as well as your bonus for Ms. Woodward's rescue," Dr. Director replied without hesitating. She stepped out of the jet and walked out of sight.

Shego stood there, looking out the hatch of her jet, a million thoughts running through her head. 'I just saved Kim Possible,' she thought. 'My greatest adversary and I saved her. Not only that, but I saved some complete stranger! What's wrong with me? I must be going soft.' She turned around and slammed a button on the wall, closing the hatch. She strapped herself into the cockpit and took off.

Not a minute later, she tore off her harness and stormed into the cabin of the jet. She grabbed the first thing she could find, a glass bottle left by one of the medical teams, and she threw it as hard as she could against the wall. It shattered, spilling the remainder of its contents onto the wall. "Get a grip!" Shego shouted at herself. "Get a fucking grip! You are not going soft! You did it for the money!"

The radio in the cockpit began to squawk. Shego climbed back into her seat and turned on her comm. screen. To her surprise, it was Dr. Director. "Calling all available Global Justice vessels, this is outpost zero niner niner. We are under attack, I repeat, we are under-", she said before the video was cut off by an explosion.

"I'm going to regret this," she said as she turned her jet around. She landed in the same place as before and climbed out, hands ablaze in anticipation of attack. The facility on the island had already been assaulted and evacuated; an entire wall had been blown out, and thick, black smoke was pouring from the hole. Shego, screaming in her head that she should just walk away, stormed over to the people who had managed to escape. "Where's Betty?" she demanded. The dazed guards stared at her in a half-trance. "Where is Dr. Director? Where the hell is your boss?"

"I'm right here," Dr. Director replied, coughing as she climbed through the smoke. "You're the last person I expected to see come rescue us."

"Hey, you can't sign the papers if you're dead," Shego replied. She looked around at the scene. "Where's Princess?"

"Still inside," Dr. Director coughed. "I had to come get a mask before I could get her."

"Don't bother," Shego replied, stealing a mask and tank from a guard. "Nobody kills Princess but me!" She took a deep breath and jumped into the building. There was an evacuation map on the wall; the facility was pretty basic, little more than a few administrative offices and some medical facilities. Shego blasted a hole in the wall into the medical bay large enough for her to carry out Kim and the other girl, but when she entered, only Kim was there, lying still. Shego grabbed her and darted out of the building.

"Where's Ms. Woodward?" asked Dr. Director, who had finally caught her breath.

"She wasn't in there," Shego replied, still holding Kim. Dr. Director held out her hands to take the girl from her arms, and Shego scoffed. "You think I'm going to leave her in your capable hands again?" She stormed back into her jet, laying Kim on the floor. The door to the jet closed as she saw Dr. Director run over, an exceptionally cross look on her face. Shego smiled wickedly and waved to her.

Twenty Minutes Later…

Shego left the cockpit of her jet, having set the autopilot to land on the helipad on top of her apartment building on the outskirts of Middleton. Kim was strapped into one of the seats in the back. "Can you hear me, Princess?" she asked as she sat next to the girl who was lost in herself. Kim didn't reply. Shego frowned and unstrapped Kim, moving her to the floor. She laid Kim's head on her lap and ran her fingers through her hair. "I don't think I'll ever have another chance to say this," she began hesitantly, "but Pumpkin, I think I love you."

For the first time since the beginning of the ordeal, Kim seemed to respond in more than an automatic attempt to fight. She turned her head sideways and looked Shego square in the eyes. There wasn't anything behind the stare, only an open gaze, but the movement was deliberate. She opened her mouth, but nothing came out, and her chest began to rise and fall with rapid breath. Shego ran her hands through Kim's hair again, and smiled. "That's right, Kimmie, I love you. I know you're in there, and I know you can hear me, and I'm telling you to fight it. Whatever they did to you in that place, fight it." Shego's voice began to choke up, and her eyes filled with tears. "And when you're better, I promise that I'll retire from crime, and we can have a happy life together until we're both old and gray and have great-grandkids." She took a deep breath, and her face began to fill with a mix of anger and a twisted happiness. "Come on, Cupcake; you get better and we'll ruin the people who did this to you."

Kim's eyes snapped shut for a moment, and reopened with a great sadness behind them. "No," she whispered. "No revenge. Promise, no revenge."

Shego, who was mildly shocked at Kim responding to anything, smiled and said, "I promise, no revenge."

Kim smiled and said, "Sleep?" Shego nodded and Kim closed her eyes. "Thank you," she said as she drifted off into sleep.

Shego held the sleeping girl in her lap, tears welling in her eyes, holding ever tighter as the young woman thrashed around. "What did they do to you, Cupcake?"

That Night…

The front door blew open in front of a fit of green flames and Shego carried Kim into the living room of her apartment, both dripping wet from the rain, slamming it shut with her leg as she came in. She sat her down on the couch and started to walk away. Kim, curling up on the couch, let out a moan, and Shego bent back down and looked her straight in the eyes. Once again, there wasn't anything staring back at her, only eyes frozen wide open, blinking occasionally. She put her hand on top of Kim's head and said, with certain stoicism, "You're home now, Kimberly; you're safe. I'm going to go get you a drink. I'll be right back." She stepped away, and Kim whined a bit, closing her eyes.

Shego returned a minute later with a couple of mugs. She set one down on the table and put the other one up to Kim's lips, tipping it back slightly to help her. Kim started sputtering, and Shego drew the cup from her mouth and wiped the liquid from her chin as it ran down her face. Shego grabbed the blanket from the back of the couch and used it to wipe the rain from Kim's face and her hair as best she could. Kim started cooing softly as she did, and Shego smiled. Finally, Shego lifted Kim off the couch and sat her on her lap. "What did they do to you, little girl?" she whispered, more to herself than to Kim.

Kim shook her head from side to side a little, and whispered, almost inaudibly, "The nightmares."

"What about the nightmares?" Shego asked, holding the cold and shivering girl in her arms. "What nightmares?"

"These thoughts," Kim began a little louder than before, pausing. "It's this nightmare playing itself through my mind time and time again; a faceless rage forcing its way into every last part of my mind, into every last thought of every minute of every hour, day in and day out. When I sleep it only gets worse, giving faces to the voices." She put her head in her hands. "Why do I do this? Why do I save the world? Why is the world worth saving? The bad guys will always just try again, and more people will get hurt." She paused for a moment and whispered as soft as before, "Why don't I just kill them all and be done with it?"

She looked up at Shego, on whose face was a look of sadness, and Kim started to cry. Shego held in her arms the shaking Kim Possible, the girl who could do anything, as tight as she could hold, with Kim's head pressed firmly into her shoulder; she started humming to no tune in particular. "Shhh," she said, "it's going to be ok. Everything is going to be alright. You're Kim Possible, and anything's possible for a Possible, right?" Kim didn't reply, but rather made a muffled cooing sound. Shego upped her tone, speaking with gentle force. "Hey, Pumpkin, look at me." She turned Kim's head toward her own and stared straight into her eyes. "Don't you dare start thinking like that. You are Kimberly Ann Possible. You have been saving the world since you were fifteen years old. You have single-handedly reformed the most wanted villain in the world. You trained a goofy buffoon of a nobody into an agent for the most powerful peace-keeping organization in the world. Now tell me, Princess, who are you?"

"I'm Kim Possible," she began. "I've been saving the world since I was fifteen, and I am a hero." Her last four words resonated with a style of certain bravado; a spirit, a level of assuredness, which told Shego that she was at least trying to pretend that she was her normal self.

"I don't know what happened to you, Kimmie, but if you decide you want to tell me, I'll always be ready to hear it," Shego said, standing up and picking her up. "Now come on, I'm going to carry you into bed and we're going to have a nice, quiet night."

The Next Morning…

Shego slowly opened her eyes and quietly drew in the situation. It was late in the morning on a spring day; the sun was shining brightly through her bedroom window, and the breeze every so often rustled the trees, and her hair. She was on her side, her arm over Kim's chest, holding her loosely, with Kim's arm resting below hers. Kim was wearing her bra and a pair of Shego's boxers, while she herself wore a white nightgown.

'What the hell happened last night?' she thought to herself. 'The last thing I remember is carrying her in here. I had a...' She stopped, not daring to think her next thoughts. "Ugh," she said aloud.

Kim stirred at the sound of Shego's voice, and rubbed Shego's hand. "Mornin'," she said.

Shego sighed and said, "Mornin', Princess. I didn't mean to wake you."

Kim turned over and looked at her, smiling. "No big," she said. She noticed a small note of concern in Shego's lips. "What?"

"What happened last night?" she asked.

Kim rubbed her eyes and said, "You dressed me in this, laid me in bed, and tucked me in. Then, you drank a few shots, which eventually turned into half a bottle," she pointed to a half-finished bottle of Scotch on the nightstand behind Shego. "You paced around at the foot of the bed, bottle in hand, rambling about how you should have done this or changed that, until, finally, you climbed into bed, and, as you fell asleep, said, 'Maybe the tyranny of Murphy…'"

"Is the penalty for hubris," Shego finished with her. "It's my favorite quotation." Kim giggled. "What, you have a better one?"

"No, I just never expected something like that from you," Kim replied, smiling and kissing her on the cheek. "Just remember what you told me last night," she added. Shego stared at her in shock as she stood up and walked out of the room. Dumbfounded, she, too, got up, and followed Kim into the kitchen, where she was pouring cups of coffee for the two of them. Shego walked up to her and put her hand on Kim's waist.

"Um, Kimmie," Shego began, her mouth dry, "what promise did I make you last night?"

Kim frowned, handed her a cup of coffee, and said, "Well, when we were on the jet, you promised… I made you promise to stop acting like everyone who hurts me deserves to die."

Shego sighed. "Kimberly, dear, I sometimes forget that you are a child fighting the wars of adults in our precious world. What has happened, what they did to you… Did you have the nightmares again last night?" Terror filled Kim's eyes and she nodded, silent tears streaming down her cheeks. "Come here," she said as she pulled her in close and embraced her again. "I can't make right what has happened these past few days; I can't tell you that you're going to get past it in time, or that you'll ever be the same again, but I can tell you, from experience," she looked into the eyes of the still-terrified girl she held, "that you have friends who want to help you. I know that it feels like people just want to help you out of pity, but the people who have been around you for years… They haven't changed. They were there for you before, out of love, and they'll be there for you now, out of that same love. Got it?" Kim nodded. "Good, now let's get you back to bed; it's hardly ten in the morning, and if anyone deserves a day in bed, it's you."

That Evening…

"Come on, Kimmie," Shego said as she shook Kim, who was lying next to her in bed, "it's time to get up. If you don't hurry, we'll be late for dinner."

Kim stirred and mumbled, "It's the weekend, mom, just five more minutes…"

Shego drew a skeptical look for a moment. "Normally I'd have a snarky comment, but I'm drawing a blank," Shego replied. "Now come on, it's time to get up." She grabbed the girl, who was facing away from her, and turned her over.

Kim opened her eyes, and found herself staring at Shego. "Um," she said, "you're… Uh, you're naked."

Shego smiled at her, unabashedly; the smile of a woman proud of her depravity. "We have dinner plans; you need to get up now," she said as she stood up and walked out of the room.

Kim stared at her as she walked, and when she was no longer in view, Kim shook her head, hard. "Not a side of Shego I thought I'd ever see," she said, getting out of bed. She threw off the covers and found that, much to her chagrin, she, too, was naked. "Shego!" she screamed as she pulled the covers back over her. Shego ran back into the room carrying a bottle of pills she'd been holding, concern evident in her posture. "Shego, why am I naked?"

"Because you apparently have no tolerance to alcohol," Shego laughed. Kim gave her a stern look, and she stopped. "You really don't remember, do you?"

"Not only do I not remember," she said crossly, "I don't believe you."

"How's your head?" Shego asked, throwing Kim the bottle. Kim caught it and read the label.

"Aspirin," Kim replied, "thanks." She took two of the pills and swallowed them. "In your crazy story, if I had been drinking, how much would I have had?"

"I'm not sure you really want to know," Shego replied, sitting down on the foot of the bed, still stark naked. Kim gave her an angry look. "Ok, ok… Three shots of Scotch."

Kim's jaw dropped and Shego patted her on the leg. "Three shots?" Kim asked meekly. Shego nodded and stood up. "I only had three shots?"

"Mmhmm, and you were bubbly," Shego replied slowly. She bent down and tore the sheets off of the shocked girl. "I'll tell you more, but you have to get ready. I took the liberty of getting something nice for you; it's in the closet." Shego walked out with a wide grin, and shut the door.

Kim looked around for the clothes she'd been wearing, but the entire room was clean. "Shego?" she yelled through the door.

"I sent them out to be cleaned last night," Shego called back, anticipating Kim's question. "They were stained and smelled like smoke, and I can't have you walking around like that, especially when I have something so nice for you. It's hanging in the closet; I'm sure you'll like it."

Kim relented and opened the closet; inside hung a black satin dry cleaner's bag with her name stitched into it in gold thread. Kim touched the stitching; it was stiff, and very smooth, but relented with slight pressure. Kim realized that the gold embroidery which constituted her name was done in thread made from actual gold. 'Just how much money does she have stored up?' she wondered to herself. Trying not to dwell on the thought of her gift being purchased by Shego's ill-gotten gains, she gingerly removed the bag from the closet and placed it on the bed. Kim opened the bag lowly, as if to prevent some mysterious damage from occurring to the dress due to the mere action of opening its protective sleeve, and stood in silence at what she saw. Inside was a black dress, a pair of heels, and a hair tie.

It was, however, the details which made the items special. The dress was very simple on outward appearance; it was knee-length with a conservative neck line, despite only having only the right shoulder. There was a tag clipped delicately to the collar which read 'Material: Cashmere/Synthetic Silk. Dry clean only. JB Designs.' 'So, she got me a fireproof, bulletproof dress,' Kim thought to herself as she read it. The three-inch heels were also very simple, until one took the time to investigate them, or even after investigation. There was a tag on the heels as well, which was attached to a small booklet; the booklet read 'JB Designs – Concealment and Protection Heels. Heels are detachable with a ¾ counter-clockwise rotation and provide a small space for hiding valuables such as cash. Pair with JB Designs Miniature Lock Picks for the ultimate in concealable B&E. Inch-long blades are hidden in the arch; remove and hold between middle and ring fingers for easy self-defense.' Kim didn't know what to think about the heels, or any possible reason Shego would think she'd need those things. The hair tie, however, was just that; a ruby and emerald-encrusted hair tie.

"Shego," Kim shouted through the door again, "I don't want to sound ungrateful for this, but…"

Anticipating Kim's question again, she replied, "How much do I have if I can spend this much on a day's notice? Twenty-three million in total, give or take." She sighed and walked into the kitchen. She picked up her cell phone and placed a call. "Yes, hello, this is April Hargrove. I'd like to confirm the availability of my usual table for my booking at eight o'clock tonight. Yes, I'll hold," she finished with a note of exasperation. She drummed her fingernails on the counter for a solid minute. "Yes, I'm still here. It is? Fine, we'll be there a little late then, just please hurry." She snapped her phone shut and rubbed her brow. "Eight hours," she said to herself. "I gave them eight hours notice that I'd be there, and they give someone else my table." Curious as to how Kim was coming along, she walked into her room. Kim was standing in the middle of the room, admiring herself in the mirror. Lost in her dreams, she was oblivious to Shego; Kim had donned her dress and the hair tie, but not yet her heels. Shego chuckled, and Kim spun around in automatic response, assuming a defensive posture until she saw Shego smiling at her. Kim's reaction made Shego's to smile even wider. "You're so cute when you get defensive," she said.

Kim held her defensive attitude, more out of confusion than anything else. "How did you know my size?" she asked. "It's obviously all hand-made, and it's not exactly standard for tailors to make clothing with a blend of Cashmere and synthetic silk. Expecting a firefight? And what about these shoes? They've got knives and lock picks in them!"

"First, I guessed on your size," she said. "Second, if you haven't noticed, we're on the second floor of the building; the first floor of this complex holds many specialty shops, like spy equipment and high-end tailors. Third, it's the only material he had in black, but you'll be damn glad to be wearing that if something does happen. It's thin and light, but it's as strong as police-issue body armor and completely fire-resistant; well, except for the Cashmere. Forth, those were the only shoes in your size in the entire shopping complex."

Kim stared at her for a second and burst into laughter. After a while, Shego stopped looking amused. "Wait," she began, "you're serious?"

"Yes, Princess," Shego replied, almost sounding hurt.

"Alright, I'll finish getting ready, but you should probably put on something, unless you plan on going out naked," Kim replied. "Not that I would mind."

"Just let me do all the talking, 'k?" Shego said, more a command than a question.

At The Club…

"Good evening, ma'am," the bouncer said as Shego and Kim walked up to the club. They stopped in front of the man, who was holding the proverbial velvet rope.

"Good evening, Rick," Shego said. "How's the career?"

"Well, I haven't been seriously injured since the last time you were here, if that's what you mean," he said.

"I'll try to keep myself under control," she promised. Rick nodded and lifted the rope for them.

"Hey!" screamed the guy at the front of the line. "I've been waiting here for two hours, and you just let her in?" Shego spun around and threw a ball of fire at his feet, which scorched the pavement but nothing more. The man gulped nervously and said, "I'll wait."

Shego turned back around and escorted Kim into the club. It was lavishly elegant; if such a thing can exist, then it did there. The vast majority of the building was made of a rich, dark wood. The lighting fixtures were all dark, silvery chandeliers, which hung over each table, and were lit with candles. In the back, a band was setting up; trumpets and a trombone lined the back, a drum set was on one side, accompanied by various hand drums, a piano was on the other, accompanied by a harp, and a microphone and guitar took center stage.

A waiter walked over to them, bowed, and said, "It is a pleasure to see you tonight, ma'am. Your table is, unfortunately, still unavailable; we can seat you at another, if you'd like, or perhaps you would prefer to dance before your meal? The band is just now setting up."

Shego looked at Kim, smiled, and said, "I think we'll take in the band." She turned back to the waiter. "Who's playing tonight?"

"Pink Martini," he replied. "An excellent band covering styles from classical to jazz to early pop. I've been assured that their openers tonight are both excellent for a young couple such as you to dance to. The first is by the name of 'City of Night'."

"Excellent, thank you," Shego said. The waiter bowed slightly and walked off. Shego led Kim down to the dance floor as the woman at the microphone began to sing.

Well the sun's going down
With its deep umber light
Embracing the town
As we fall into night
To the silvery sound
As the birds fly away
Getting ready for love
Getting out of the day

It is the city of night
It is the city of night
Leave the worries of day behind
And dream a new dream tonight

All the lands are a glow
All the lids painted red
And you wish you could take
Back the last thing you said
Well the night is a drum
Singing songs of delight
But when dawn comes along
Love is lost in the light

But in the city of night
Oh, in the city of night
Leave the troubles of day behind
And dream a new dream tonight

But in the city of night
Oh, in the city of night
Leave the troubles of day behind
And dream a new dream tonight

But in the city of night
Oh, in the city of night
You can leave it all far behind
And dream a new dream tonight

As the song ended, they moved immediately into their next selection. Shego, recognizing the song, pulled Kim in close and sang along quietly.

I wish a falling star could fall forever
And sparkle through the clouds and stormy weather
And in the darkness of the night
The star would shine a glimmering light
And hover above our love

Please hold me close and whisper that you love me
And promise that your dreams are only of me
When you are near, everything's clear
Earth is a beautiful heaven
Always I hope that we follow the star
And be forever floating above
I know a falling star can't fall forever
But let's never stop falling in love

When you are near, everything's clear
Earth is a beautiful heaven
Always I hope that we shine like the star
And be forever floating above
I know a falling star can't fall forever
But let's never stop falling in love

No, let's never stop falling in love

The song ended, and the waiter came down and whispered to Shego. She nodded and led Kim to the table. At the table was sitting a man; he was tall, relatively speaking, with short brown hair and a very simple appearance. Dressed in an average business suit, as he was, he could be mistaken for any of a million business men walking the streets of any major city, or for any other patron of the upscale establishment in which they found themselves.

"Jacques Lu Cont, it is my pleasure to introduce to you Kimberly Possible. Kimberly, may I introduce to you Jacques Lu Cont, the man with his hand on the pulse of everything in the gray area between the worlds of heroes and villains," Shego said as she introduced the two.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, my dear," he said, kissing Kim's hand.

"I'm honoured," Kim replied with sincerity.

"Well, from the looks of it, miss," Jacques began, "you'd enjoy a bit of private time with your… Lover, is it? No, you hold the flame, but the way she looks at you…" He laughed under his breath. "You," he pointed to Shego, "there's something far more than that going on in your beautiful mind."

"That," snapped Shego, taking a second to calm her voice, "is quite an observation. Jacques," she handed him a small envelope, "payment in full, along with instructions. Now, if you don't mind, I'd like some with my girlfriend." Jacques nodded and walked away from the table.

"Ok," began Kim as he walked away, "tell me everything."

Shego, very methodically, grabbed her glass took a drink of her wine. Without putting it down, she said, "What's the last thing you remember?"

Kim closed her eyes. "I remember getting up, and talking to you in the kitchen, and then going back to bed, and you having a drink, and then I fell asleep." Kim reopened her eyes to a deviously-smiling Shego. "Spill."

Shego took another sip of her wine. "Right on all counts up to the last one, Pumpkin. After I brought you back to bed, I pulled out that bottle of Scotch I'd started on the night before. I poured myself a glass, and I offered you one as well. After a bit of coaxing, you agreed to drink one shot." Shego paused.

"And?" asked Kim, anticipating more of a response.

"And… You have no tolerance to alcohol. You kept giggling, and took another shot, and then another, and ended up saying that you were hot, so you took off your shirt, and then decided that if you're not wearing a shirt, why should you wear anything?" Shego said, finishing the rest of her glass in one gulp. She poured herself another, but Kim snatched it and drank it down before she could stop her. "Kim!"

"Just one," Kim said, a pleading look in her eyes, but a grin preventing the infamous puppy-dog pout. Shego sighed. "Thank you. But what about you; why were you naked?"

"Because I like sleeping naked," Shego replied matter-of-factly. "Now I want you to answer one question for me. Can you… Will you do that for me, Princess?" Shego asked. Kim nodded. "How much of this is a game to you?"

Kim swallowed and laughed under her breath. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," she said. She cleared her throat and continued with an unsuccessful attempt at looking serious. "I love you, Shego, and when we get home, I'll show you just how much I love you."

Shego shook her head. "No, Kimmie," she said. She sighed a meaningful sigh, not one of exasperation, but one of honest sadness. "I can't speak to what's going on in your head, but when I look at you, when I look in your eyes, I see staring back at me a girl who is wild and impulsive. Part of me wants to blame the bastards who captured you, but deep down I know that you've always been this way, and your ability to focus in school and on your missions is simply part of that wild nature." She leaned in close, a definite and disappointed sadness in her eyes. "You're the most clever person I've ever met, and you're strong, and fast, and agile, and everything good and virtuous, but nobody, nobody, gets away without their fair demons. You are stubborn; when you are challenged, you don't give up for anything." She paused and considered her next words carefully. "You save the world because it's the right thing to do, but you'd go off your rocker if the world didn't need saving anymore."

"So you don't…" Kim started as she looked timidly into Shego's eyes.

"No, Kimmie, I don't want to have sex with you. I love you, and I will always love you. When you decide that you love me too, not just teenage hormones flaring up lust for the admittedly gorgeous girl who just came to your rescue, then, and only then, will I consider it," Shego said gently.

The two finished their meal without much more conversation, both speaking more with their body language than anything their words could convey.

Back at Shego's Apartment…

The slightly-inebriated Kim stood outside the door to Shego's apartment, holding her heels in her hand and tapping her foot as her counterpart strolled down the hall toward her silently. "Come on," she said with a touch of whine in her voice, "you've got the key! Hurry up; I've got to use the little girls' room!"

Shego smiled and said, "You've got those lock picks, remember?"

Kim's eyes widened. "But that's illegal!"

"It's only illegal if you're breaking into something which you don't have permission to break into. I'm giving you permission to break into my house," she replied.

A giant, enthusiastic grin burst onto Kim's face, like a child who has walked into the living room on Christmas morning and has sees the giant, wrapped box which could only be one thing. She removed the miniature lock pick set from her heels, and looked at them for a minute before remembering what she'd seen on television. She placed the torsion wrench into the lock, followed by the actual pick, and began moving the pick up and down and in and out, trying to figure out what she was doing. Shego walked up behind her and placed her hands on Kim's, moving the pick and, eventually, turning the torsion wrench, unlocking the door. Kim looked back at her, half disappointed, half drunk. "I would have got it eventually," she said.

"No, sweetie, you wouldn't have. But I'll tell you what: Starting tomorrow, I'll teach you all sorts of tricks like how to pick locks. If you're lucky, maybe I'll even teach you how to be silent," Shego said. The grin appeared on Kim's face again as Shego finished speaking, and she opened the door and pulled the other woman inside. Shego smiled as well, like a parent who has just seen the look on their daughter's face when they see the big present which could only be one thing on Christmas morning. "Let's get you to bed."

The Next Morning…

Kim turned over as she woke up, half asleep, and much to her dismay, Shego wasn't in bed. She looked at the clock on the nightstand, which flashed 12:00. Kim growled under her breath, and stood up. She looked herself over, and she was still wearing her dress, but her hair had been let down. She stumbled out the open bedroom door and called out, "Shego?"

No reply. Kim wandered through the small apartment, and, finding no sign that the woman had ever been there, sat herself down on the couch. Her expression was half worry, half irritation; she wondered where Shego had gone, and why there wasn't even so much as a black hair in the entire house. The front door opened. Kim jumped up and turned around to see Shego. Shego shot her between the eyes, and she watched herself fall to the floor.

Kim threw her arms around the sleeping Shego and wailed tears of fear and sadness. "Shhh," said Shego as she awoke, embracing Kim, "I'm here, love, don't worry." The look on the younger woman's face made Shego cringe; Kim looked as though someone had just died in her arms. "What did you see?"

Kim whimpered in the Shego's arms for a few more minutes before replying. "You weren't in bed when I woke up, and I couldn't find any sign that you'd ever been in here, so I sat down on the couch, and then you came in and…" Kim tried to keep herself from breaking into tears again, but failed. "You killed me."

Shego couldn't take it anymore. Every inch of her body felt as though it was burning with a mix of unspeakable sadness and unparalleled rage. She pulled Kim as close as she could and held on for dear life. "There is not a soul on this earth foolish enough to try to take you away from me."

Author's Notes

Well, here's the rehash of Chapter 1, revised many, many times since the last update. If you haven't guessed it yet, my writing is a living thing, evolving as I do, as an author and as a person. Every other chapter also has its own respective revisions, so you might want to check them out.

In the immortal words of Leonard Nimoy: LLAP.