After the emotional exhaustion of the day, everyone got more sleep than expected. In the morning, Ann was woken by a call from the hospital, asking how soon she would be available for work. After that brief conversation, she noticed her husband and sons were still sound asleep, but her daughter was nowhere to be seen. Then she remembered Shego and began to worry.
She discovered two things when she stepped into the kitchen. The first was that power had been restored, according to the blinking timer on the oven and the hum of the fridge. The second was Kim and Shego asleep in the breakfast nook. If the plates were any indication, they'd shared a midnight snack - the doctor was pleased to see Shego's appetite had survived her sickness - but the girls were now crammed together in the corner, and Kim was hugging Shego in her sleep.
Ann had seen the little smile on her daughter's face many times before; apparently the villainess was a decent substitute for Pandaroo. Must be the hair, the doctor surmised, since it can't be the towel... which must have come loose during the night and was barely covering anything.
Ann reached under the table to snag a corner of the towel and gently draped it over the green girl, wondering if she would be more upset about her own nudity or the fact that she would wake in her rival's embrace. Kim's arms were under the towel too, but Ann knew better than to try and move them while she slept. Perhaps the girls had had some kind of heart-to-heart last night. Or not. Either way, Ann doubted she should be right there with them when they woke, so once the towel was more or less in place, she retreated and started the coffee machine before browsing breakfast options.
The smell of coffee woke the girls, but Kim was the first to become aware of the situation, if her surprised "Shego!" was anything to go by. Ann made sure to keep her back turned, keeping herself busy with the investigation of the fridge's contents. Not going to trust the milk after this much time...
"Whuzza... wha' the hell. You gropin' me in my sleep, Kimmie?"
"Sorry! I'm not, I swear... I didn't mean to..."
"Promise you won't start a fight."
Ann took a careful sniff of the bacon, and decided it was still edible. Bacon and eggs for breakfast, perhaps.
Kim issued another squeak before Shego spoke. "There, see how you like it."
"Um... without the claws, I think I'll just consider myself lucky."
A dissatisfied grunt. "You did get more to grope."
"I didn't! Or, uh, I didn't mean to. I just... fell asleep hugging you."
"And why were you doing that?"
"You were... you fell asleep first, and you were having a bad dream, so I pulled you into a hug, and... we just sorta ended up like... this. I never saw anything, and I didn't mean to grope you, honest."
The eggs haven't reached their sell by date, let alone their use by date, so they should be fine...
A slight commotion, probably Shego extricating herself and securing her towel. "So you did it in your sleep," the villainess grumbled, though the anger in her tone seemed... off. "You a closet case, Kimmie?"
"What? No! I'm with Ron!"
"Does that mean he's a beard, or do you just have better taste in women?"
"What's that supposed to... wait, what do you mean, a beard?"
"A fake boyfriend so no one knows you prefer girls."
"No, he's not a fake boyfriend," Kim growled. "I love him."
"Oh yeah? How far have you two gone? Second base? Third?"
"I'd rather not hear the answer to that," Ann interjected quickly, just in case Kim didn't tell Shego to mind her own business. She turned to see Kim blushing furiously at the realisation that her mother had heard the entire exchange, and despite Shego's grimace, amusement sparked in her eyes. Perhaps she'd already noticed Ann's presence and had been needling Kim for all it was worth. "Good morning, girls. Power's back on. Breakfast?" Ann held up the bacon in one hand, the eggs in the other.
"Sure," the villainess responded first, "But I could use-"
"There's another bathrobe hanging on my bedroom door. You can use that until the boys are up, then raid my wardrobe in peace."
Kim shuffled around and out of the breakfast nook. "I'm gonna shower before they are up," she said, hoping Shego wouldn't see fit to shoot off a parting wisecrack.
"Dibs on the first cup of coffee," was all the green girl said.
The teen hero took care of her morning ablutions before being rushed out of the bathroom by the tweebs. After a quick visit to her room, she returned to the kitchen in her mission outfit and tried not to laugh at Shego's scowl, no doubt brought on by the powder blue bathrobe she was wearing. Dad was there too, frying the bacon while Ann did the same with the eggs. As soon as the tweebs arrived, the villainess stalked off to change; when she returned, Kim couldn't hold back the amused snort.
"What?" Shego looked down at what she was wearing: a thigh-length polo neck sweater, green with a couple of yellow horizontal zigzag stripes going around it. "This was the only thing I could find that works for me."
"It's mom's winter wear," the teenager pointed out, "Isn't it a bit warm?" Her smirk faltered at the green girl's feral grin.
"Nah. The only thing I'm wearing underneath it are the matching high heels." Shego waited just long enough to observe Kim's blush before turning a dangerous glare at the twins. "And if I catch either of you trying to sneak a peek, breakfast won't be the only thing frying around here. Got it?" She held up a glowing hand to punctuate the threat.
The buys gulped and glanced in each other's direction. "Hickabickaboo?" One said in an uneasy voice. "Nuh-uh," the other replied emphatically.
Breakfast was eaten silently as the group learned the effects of the tsunami around the rest of the Pacific rim. Alaska had shielded part of the Russian coastline, but the island nations had been completely washed out. The Philippines and Papua New Guinea were the worst hit. Their neighbours and allies had aided their evacuation, but millions of casualties were assumed. Given the aquatic decimation of Japan, it was a sad truth to expect the extinction of the native cultures across the smaller islands.
Australians along the east coast had sufficient warning to flee far enough inland, so while the destruction was total from Cooktown to Mallacoota, casualty estimates were low and the country now boasted the largest number of native refugees.
Relief efforts were getting into full swing all around the Pacific. The loss of so many famous Hollywood philanthropists had prompted actors from around the rest of the globe to begin donating or raising money for survivors. It was the first sign of the global community coming together in the face of crisis and tragedy.
At home, blood was a more immediate priority across the westernmost states; but overnight statistics showed that donations across the whole country had risen sharply. There were no specifics concerning rescue efforts in California and its neighbouring states, but FEMA had concluded that, beyond a certain line someone had drawn on a map, there was simply no point in looking for survivors.
Shego was quick to counter Kim's acerbic response to the notion, which didn't go down well.
"Hey, I've been to disaster zones before," the teenager argued, "Including earthquakes. You'd be surprised what people can survive due to the whims of chance or fate. I've learned that people can survive even in the most unlikely circumstances."
"Maybe you can," Shego responded with a snort, "But you've never seen this, Kimmie. Beyond a certain point, anyone that was on the ground at the time will be dead, and I'm not just talking about what fell into the ocean. Imagine a storm at sea, except the water's solid, drops out from under you so far and fast you literally start falling, only to slam back up and break every bone in your legs, then repeating the process a few dozen times more. Assuming it hasn't cracked open and swallowed you whole, or worse."
"There's still a chance-"
"This is too big, Kimmie! I saw it! They don't have the resources to go looking for the one in a million that got lucky." She emphasized the million because she meant the ratio literally. "Right now they're guessing at casualties simply from population statistics. The estimates are only gonna go up, believe me."
James cleared his throat in the unconfortable silence that followed. "Well, the rest of the nation seems to have things in hand," he summed up, "So let's worry about what to do around here. The boys and I will decontaminate Shego's aircraft after breakfast. Then I'll head back to the space centre and talk the department heads into prioritizing the completion of the Kepler II. It may come in handy for global emergency relief efforts."
"You don't think a spacecraft is overkill?" Shego asked, more curious than interested.
"You never know," James insisted. "It's as fast as the original, so it can get whatever's needed where it's needed quickly. Granted, I always expected its trajectory to be more vertical than horizontal, but-"
"Yeah, whatever," the villainess interrupted before he could refer to her association to Motor Ed or what he had done to the original Kepler. "As long as you take care of my baby first."
"Your baby?" Kim repeated with a raised eyebrow. The green girl only frowned at her in response.
"The hospital already called," Ann chose to share before the girls began arguing again. "I'm afraid I'll be terribly busy for the next few days." She sounded exhausted just thinking about it.
"There's no school for the rest of the week," Kim informed everyone, "So I'll probably be going full mission mode until Monday."
"What about the boys?" Ann asked.
"...I'll take them to Uncle Slim's in the Sloth."
"No fair!" Jim complained.
"We want to help!" Tim added.
Kim leaned down and placed a hand on each of their shoulders. "Guys, you were great yesterday, but that was just snow. And Shego has a point. The mess out there is worse than anything you guys have been involved in before." She knew here parents would share her opinion that she didn't want the tweebs coming across anything... bloody.
The twins shared a look, then grumbled, "Fine," in stereo.
Shego abruptly stopped leaning against the counter and stalked out the back door.
"Is she alright?" Ann asked quietly.
"She had four brothers," Kim told her. "The youngest were twins." She turned to Jim and Tim. "They weren't much older than you, either. Keep a low profile, okay guys? Let dad talk to Shego when you're done with the jet." They nodded mutely, a gesture James repeated when his daughter's gaze turned to him.
The Possible family split up, Ann to take a shower before heading back to the hospital, the males to put on their radiation suits, and Kim to check on the villainess herself. Shego was in the middle of the back yard, her arms crossed under her breasts, staring at the mountains in the distance.
"Is it safe to hug you from behind?" Kim joked, trying to lighten the mood.
"What is it with you and feeling me up, Possible?" Shego countered harshly.
The teenager didn't rise to the bait. "Like you said last night, I like to help people-"
"I just want my ride fixed so I can get back ho-" Shego's voice cracked and she cleared her throat, "To the lair," she finished with a growl.
"It's not just about what you want, Shego," Kim told her gently, stepping closer, "It's about what you need."
"And what do you think I need?" the villainess sneered.
"If I needed it from you, I'd start pounding on you. That usually improves my mood."
And before last night, I might have believed that, the heroine considered. "I can understand why a fight would make you feel better, but in your current emotional state, you might accidentally kill me."
"Accidentally?" the villainess repeated, turning just enough to hit Kim with a glare bordering on outrage.
"Come on, Shego. We both know you'd get bored with no one left to match you."
"Are you suggesting I haven't been trying to kill you, these last few years?"
Kim stepped forward again, into the other girl's range. "I'm suggesting you haven't been trying as hard as you used to. Not to mention what happened the last time we met."
"I told you I was off the clock."
"You didn't have to save me from Warmonga, either."
"Bragging rights," Shego quickly informed her, "No one gets to finish you off but me."
Kim raised a dubious eyebrow. "Well, I can see you're right on that." The green girl turned away again, muttering incomprehensibly to herself. Kim took it as the closest thing to encouragement she was ever likely to get. "Stop fighting me for just a minute and let me do this for you," she said, took the final step, slid her arms around Shego's waist, and squeezed. She wasn't quite tall enough to get her chin over the older girl's shoulder, so she pressed her cheek against the dark, voluminous hair and inhaled the familiar scent of her nemesis with a deep breath.
Pale hands eventually transferred from Shego's own arms to gently hold Kim's.
"Our parents died when the comet hit," the villainess eventually said. "I cr... I mourned. And I destroyed my room in the hospital in the process. Being soft, weak, meant being out of control. I haven't been that girl for a long time." Her voice turned hard. "So don't expect me to break down in your arms, Kimmie. If I did, I might incinerate you, whether I intend to or not."
"I'm not expecting you to, Shego. And believe it or not, I do understand."
"I doubt it," Shego growled.
"A freak event that should have killed you, kills your parents. Now a way more harsh event has left you even more alone, just because you weren't there like..." like you should be. "Like you could've been. Both times, there's no one to blame but... happenstance. Nothing you can focus on. You can't pound on mother nature."
"Maybe with the Kepler..." She could feel Kimmie's quiet snort against her back as the teenager pressed against her, but the truth was she'd already seen what mother nature could do without any villainous help.
A nervous clearing of the throat came from behind them. Kim released Shego and they both turned to see Ron, looking confused and nervous. "Uh, morning."
Shego beat Kim to making a response. "Finally plucked up the nerve to come over, huh?"
"Well, I live right next door, and I figured, after seeing what happened last night, uh..."
"That you'd rather not help me wash the puke out of my hair?" Kim finished for him.
Ron shrugged in resignation. "Myeah, pretty much."
"And you're still dating this loser?" Shego asked the redhead, her tone bordering on sympathetic.
"Shego, uh..." the blond rubbed the back of his neck, "Were your brothers... home? Yesterday?"
"...Far as I know."
"Man, that's... I know you didn't get along, but..."
Shego waved him off. "Ugh, save it. I've been getting enough sympathy from miss priss already."
"You didn't seem to be complaining," Ron pointed out, but a glare from the villainess dissuaded him from further comment. Luckily, the kimmunicator interrupted at that moment.
"Kim," Wade began without preamble, "We just got a time-sensitive hit on the site, if... uh... is Shego with you?"
The teen hero nodded. "Don't worry about it, Wade. What's the sitch?"
"The nuclear center in Vallecitos. The main reactor was shut down in the sixties, but there's a smaller reactor for producing radioactive materials and conducting irradiation experiments. There are several faults running through the county, and they all shifted when the big one hit, so it's a real mess."
"And the reactor is in the middle of the mess," Kim said. "How bad is it?"
Wade didn't waste time running through numbers or statistics. "Compared to the main reactor, it's pretty small; it wasn't designed to supply power to an entire city, or anything. It won't put out as much radioactive material if it melts down-"
"Who says it hasn't already?" Shego cut in. "That might have been what I flew through last night."
"That's local, the result of damaged shielding," Wade answered as he tapped furiously at a keyboard. "If the core itself melts down... poisoning the land is the best case scenario. If radioactive material ends up in the atmosphere, the current wind would blow it east."
"Can the battlesuit handle radiation, Wade?" Kim asked.
"No way. Even if it was fully enclosing, the electronics aren't shielded against this level of radiation."
"Then we'll need radiation suits."
"I don't have time to... wait! The spacesuits your father designed protect against all kinds of radiation!"
"We'll swing by the space center before heading to Vallecitos," Kim decided.
"I'll contact you again when I've got more details," Wade told her before signing off.
The redhead turned to Ron. "Will your parents mind if-"
Her boyfriend was quick to cut her off. "No problemo, KP. I'll go grab my stuff. Gimme five minutes!" He was already rushing home as he spoke.
Instead of heading into the house to do the same, the teen hero raised an eyebrow at Shego "Are you coming?"
The question surprised and confused the villainess. "Huh? Why would I?"
"This is your chance to get back at what made you sick. Or would you rather hang around here all morning?"
Shego weighed her options. "Your momma's heading to work soon, right?"
"...Fine, I'll come with."
Kim was so struck with surprise she had to catch up to the green girl on the way back inside. "What was... do you like my mom?"
"I wouldn't go that far. But she's the least infuriating member of the Possible clan. Probably because she's smart without being a geek." She favoured her nemesis with a smirk. "Or did you mean like like?"
The villainess couldn't help sniggering as she left the dumbfounded Kimmie behind once again.