7. Born To Run

Day 473

I woke up this morning next to Shego.

Now, nothing happened the night before, I can remember it clearly. We both woke up with our clothes on for one thing, and we were also awkwardly splayed out on the couch of our apartment.

Our apartment. What a weird idea think about. I'm sharing an apartment with Shego. A different Shego than the one I once knew, but one no less proud or talented. A Shego who loves me, as much as I find it hard to accept fully. A Shego I might just love back.

Platonically at least, right now. I'm not sure about the other part, even after all we went through.

I wish there was a switch in my brain I could at least see, to tell if I should even be trying. Is it wrong to wish you were gay? Is that something you could learn or condition and if you could, should you?

I know that I have found my soul mate, in a strange world that is so different than my own I can barely believe it. But is she supposed to be my friend or lover? Shego definitely believes the latter, but I'm not terribly sure.

We don't talk about it much, which is bad, I know. We've already seen what happens if we keep quiet too long, we're just not good at silently keeping secrets.

Sylia is back at Elkhart Lake, and frankly, I'm glad. I'm still struggling to figure out how I feel about Shego, I don't need the shameless stalker from richville getting in the way. It's obvious she's way into Shego, and there are times when I think Shego might be into her too. That makes me feel... uneasy, but I don't know why. Does it mean I'm jealous? Or does it mean I think Sylia is not right for Shego and I'm trying to protect my friend who acts like a fly trapped in a spider's web.

Maybe a bit of both?

I should talk to Shego about these things, I know I should. But I'm no less afraid now than I was a week ago. How does one talk about their feelings of helplessness without surrendering their will to the person they're talking to? If I make a decision - if I truly decide what I want from Shego, I don't want it to be because someone's told me what I should want. I want to decide what to want myself.

So I have to make her wait.

Surely, someday, she'll understand.

Just probably not today.

*** KP – KP – KP ***

Shego awoke to the sound of running water and she perked her head up over the edge of the couch to look around. Their apartment was very spartan. It was a pre-furnished, two bedroom space that was intended for extended stay commuters or consultants. Neither Shego nor Kim traveled with much typically, so the sparse decorations actually appealed to them. But they were still trying to get their bearings in the unfamiliar surroundings.

Kim was in the kitchen, Shego realized, making eggs and brewing coffee. The smell was delicious, and Shego let her nose lead the way to the breakfast table where Kim provided her a hot cup of Joe.

"I hope you don't mind," said Kim. "There were some eggs in the fridge; I think it's sort of a welcome package. There's little else, though."

"Please," nodded Shego with a smile. "This is such a treat, seeing you cook."

"It's not like we can do it in the back of your rig," said Kim. "I know a few recipes, but I'm warning you now, they're all breakfast foods."

"I'd better learn how to cook for the other meals, then," said Shego. "Pancakes are good, but not three times a day."

The both laughed as Kim served up some eggs and toast for them to eat. For a while just the sounds of happy eaters filled up the quiet apartment. Neither had eaten much the previous day, and the six eggs in the fridge were gone faster than Shego's coffee.

Shego decided to wash up after the breakfast and swapped seats with Kim who was looking idly through the black folder sitting on the table.

"So what do we do now?" asked Kim as Shego was drying dishes.

"I have to work," said Shego. "Apparently I need to meet the other riders that were drafted into Sylia's crusade. You should relax, hang out, get comfortable," said Shego. "Let me know where the grocery stores are so we can get some food for dinner."

Kim looked into her cup. "I don't want to mooch off of you." She looked up. "It's neither pleasant nor in my nature. I need to do something."

Shego shrugged and began putting away silverware. "I can see if there is something to do at the Foundation? Since I'm salaried, I don't really need a manager."

Kim bobbed her head slightly. "I don't really want to work for Sylia. Maybe I'll see if there are any job postings in the area. Probably won't be much for someone with no social security number, no ID, and no job history, but maybe I can work at a Bueno Nacho."

"A what?" asked Shego.

"Right, right, they don't exist here. Maybe a... Sonics? I like to rollerskate."

Shego considered this and then refilled her cup of coffee. "I'll still ask around," she decided. "Sylia is not the only person who works at the Foundation, there may be other people you can help." She shrugged. "Something to consider."

"Okay," nodded Kim quietly.

The two shared another minute of silence save for the slurping of coffee.

"This isn't going to be easy," said Shego. "Neither of us are comfortable with this life. I can already feel the urge to jump in a car and drive off."

"Is this still something you want to do?" asked Kim.

Shego nodded. "The chance to ride is important, but I also sort of like the idea of being on the planning committee for a huge competition. I really want to see how this works out."

"As long as you're having fun," said Kim.

Shego came around the table and took Kim's hands into her own. The redhead looked startled by the sudden display and became flushed. "Are you okay with this? I mean, you wanted me to pursue racing more, and while this isn't exactly where I expected to end up, it's not a terrible situation to be in from my perspective. But, if this is uncomfortable for you—"

"It can't just be about me," interrupted Kim.

"Well it's not all about me," replied Shego.

Neither knew what to say for a few minutes.

"What about Sylia?" Kim finally asked.

"She won't be back for weeks," said Shego.

"And when she is back?"

Shego refused to look away. "I don't know. I thought maybe that answer would become apparent once we were back together but…"

Kim slowly nodded.

"What a right old mess we are," said Kim.

"Tell me about it."

Kim reached up and cupped Shego's face in her hands. Slowly, timidly, she leaned forward and kissed Shego on the cheek.

"I won't give up again," she said. "I won't run away. We'll figure this out together."

Shego stared for a second, then slowly started to grin.

"You'd better not," said Shego. "Because if I have to chase you down again, I'm putting a leash on you."

"Good luck trying," said Kim with a haughty look. "If I really wanted to be gone, you'd never find me."

"So you're saying I should just put the leash on now?"

"You don't want to go into your first day at work with bruises, do you? Because that's where this conversation is going."

Shego laughed. "Oh, so you'd abuse your friends. Interesting to know what passes for a hero in your world."

"Villains don't count, you can do anything to them," said Kim. "It's karmic balance."

"Karmic—you are joking me."

"Gonna try me to find out?"

Shego cracked her knuckles and pulled up her sleeves.

Kim grinned. "I'm guessing that's a yes." She jumped out of her chair and landed defensively. "Catch me if you can!" She turned on her heel and dashed into the hall.

Shego scampered after her and the two ran circles around their new apartment, laughing as they danced, all thoughts of awkwardness forgotten until another day.

*** KP – KP – KP ***

"Together Wendy we'll live with the sadness
I'll love you with all the madness in my soul
Someday girl I don't know when
we're gonna get to that place
Where we really want to go
and we'll walk in the sun
But till then tramps like us
baby we were
born to run"

- "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen

*** Fin.

A/N: Once again, I've changed the status quo here, but probably not in the way you wanted. Sorry about that, but sometimes people (or characters) don't go where you want them to. Sometimes they go cohabitate in San Francisco "platonically."

Alright, so I'm dancing a bit around a few issues here. The truth of the matter is that people change when they absolutely must, and not a moment before. There were moments here, points where Kim and Shego had the opportunity to make better choices but they're not ready yet. If you still think escape is an option, then you're not ready to commit. Kim had to get over that urge before she could treat her situation seriously. Similarly, Shego is inclined to let fate take her wherever, without doing much to control it. She started to show signs of growth at the end of Hitchhiker 1 but regressed a bit at the start of this story because there were several months of nothing controversial happening. At the end of this story, however, she's faced that choice again and exerted more control. Time will tell if this is a permanent change.

I'm interested in what people think about Kim and Shego. Do you think they're both being stupid? Do you think they need to just get over themselves and screw like wild rabbits? Or do you sympathize with two people in an impossible situation? There is no right answer; obviously you don't have to agree with me to enjoy the story. :)

Let's look towards the future: The Hitchhiker 3: The Longest Journey begins October 1st! We got a glimpse of Shego's mind in Hitchhiker 2, now we're going to dive into her history. How DID Shego get to where she is today? Why is she so bitter towards her parents? What was that breakdown about during Shego's first dinner with Sylia in chapter 3?

Some of these questions might even get answered!

I can also say that there is a HitchhIker 4 in the works, though I'm struggling to get it moving at the rate I wrote Hitchhiker 1 and 2. Hopefully I'll be able to plot it out and get the 1st draft done by the end of October so I can line it up to start on November 1st. After that, I think I'm going to take a break from this universe for a short while. I have other ideas now that I want to work on, but I don't want to leave this Kim and Shego hanging. Hitchhiker 4 will conclude the Stingray Foundation story and that seems like a good place to stop.

And now, a preview to whet your appetite until Saturday:

*** KP – KP – KP ***

Kim slowly dabbed at the bruise on Shego's forehead with a cotton swab, causing the latter to wince while they sat on the couch in their apartment.

"Easy," said Kim quietly.

"It stings," said Shego with a scowl.

"Yes, obviously," Kim made a small smile. "Let me finish."

"Fine," sighed Shego and held as still as she could while Kim replaced the bandages. "You seem pretty at home with this."

"You get pretty good at this sort of stuff when you're out saving the world," said Kim. "Not always a nursing station to run to in the middle of Mongolia." She paused and looked contemplative. "Or a roommate."

Shego blew a short raspberry at Kim. The latter laughed in response.

"What a lousy day," said Shego.

"Not having fun with your new co-workers I see."

"That Priss girl has her head so far up her own ass she can see her lunch," said Shego.

Kim cringed. "That's... disgusting."

"Also true," Shego said stiffly.

"Metaphorically," added Kim, hopefully.

"Whatever." Shego rolled her eyes.

"She made fun of your baby girl, didn't she?" said Kim.

"Feh! The punk," said Shego and it was all scowls again.

"Does she at least look as bad as you?" asked Kim.

The corner of Shego's mouth turned slightly upwards.

"Figures," Kim tried to sound admonishing but she had trouble with the grin on her face.

"I'll make her feel worse tomorrow," said Shego.

Kim frowned. "How?"

"We're gonna race," said Shego with a smirk.

"Is that a... good idea? I thought you said she had a huge bike."

"Power isn't everything," said Shego.

"It's a lot, though," said Kim. She finished with Shego's bandage and started packing away the first aid supplies. She had initially questioned all the materials when she saw them on the shopping list earlier in the week, but now she knew better.

"My baby girl has got power; she'll show that punk," said Shego.

"You're both kind of punk-ish, though, right?"

"We're not alike at all," said Shego curtly and left to go make dinner.

"Suuuure you aren't," said Kim, smiling.

*** KP – KP – KP ***

Kim Possible, Shego, Dr. Possible, Wade Load and his mother, and the town of Middleton are all from Disney's Kim Possible. Sylia Stingray, Linna Yamazaki, Nene Romanova, Priss Asagiri, Katsuhito Stingray, and Dr. Raven are from ARTMIC/Youmex's Bubblegum Crisis. Jack Fenton is from Nickelodeon's Danny Phantom. All characters and situations are presented in a modified format inspired by their original published appearances.

Born To Run was written and performed by Bruce Springsteen. Track titles and lyrics excerpts are presented without modification.

All locations mentioned by name (except Middleton) are real but descriptions may be inaccurate. Additional information was obtained from Wikipedia, the AMA Pro Racing website, and the Elkhart Lake Village and Chamber website.

I know almost nothing about league motorcycle racing, and made almost everything up. Forgive me. :)

The idea of making all of your stories have even word counts came from fellow author King In Yellow, and he's a criminally evil person. Now that I've started, I'm finding it difficult to stop!

If you enjoyed this story please check out my other Kim Possible and Bubblegum Crisis works at Fanfiction dot net under the username TempestDash. My opinions about television, movies, video games, and life in general are also available on my blog at rogue-penguin dot com. Also check out my weekly podcast at TheTITANShow dot com where I talk about nothing with my co-host, Matt, and sometimes a guest or two.