A/N: I do not own any of the recognizable characters, locations, items, or devices featured in this story. I am just a fan; always have been, always will be. Please, enjoy!
The cacophony of Go City hit Dr. Drakken's ears the instant he stepped out of automatic doors of the Go City International Airport. Car horns blared as families reunited in the road and lone travelers hailed passing taxicabs. A smile spread across his face as he soaked it all in. It had been three years since he last set foot in America. There were days he was almost able to convince himself that he didn't miss it. But now, immersed in familiarity, there was no denying that there was something in the abrasive swearing chorused out by harried travelers, something in the smell of street vendors' day-old hot-dogs, that just couldn't be found in Geneva. Oh, sure. The Swiss had their chocolate and their watches, but their cute cottages and centuries-old buildings were quaint, not striking. He shut his eyes for a moment, grin still plastered on his face, and lost himself into the sound—
"Hey, buddy, you need a taxi or something?"
Drakken opened his eyes to see a short man in a grey uniform looking at him. He held a stack of yellow tickets and wore an expression that was anything but friendly.
"'Cause if you don't, you better get a move on," the man said. "You're holding up the line."
"Erm. Right. Yes."
Drakken took one of the yellow tickets and was paired up with a taxi to take him uptown to his new apartment. The taxi smelled like leather and sweat. Drakken opened the window and the wind blew through his hair. He inhaled and exhaled deeply. Then, he realized the cab driver was staring at him through the rearview mirror.
"What?" he snapped.
The man driving started at Drakken's tone. Then, he said, "I know you. You are Doctor Drakken, yes?"
"Yes. Who are you? I don't know you."
"Oh, no. You would not. I am just an admirer." The man smiled. "I was engineer in my country. Your hydro-hovercrafts are inspiration!"
"Thank you. You know, I designed my first prototype for them in college. My so-called friends laughed then, but after just a few tweaks—Vrroom! There was no stopping my first working hovercraft…! Which was a bit problematic, since the brake system proved rather tricky…"
The cabbie's smile faltered in the mirror, but if Drakken noticed, he didn't care. He continued on about the hovercrafts for a few solid minutes before sighing.
"But of course," he said conspiratorially. "I did keep the best version for myself. A man has to have his priorities straight. Fame and fortune are all well and good, but there's just something… something… " Drakken threw his hands in the air emphatically, at a loss for words. "…about having something that's truly one-of-a-kind."
"Yes," said the cabbie. "I know exactly—"
"If you wouldn't mind zipping it?" Drakken said. "I want to enjoy the city for a minute."
He looked out the window as they crossed over the river. Leisure boats skipped across the greenish waves and pigeons (or were they gulls? Drakken never could tell…) flew over the bridge. He was going to like it here. On Monday, he would start teaching his first science course. Not that he needed the income or the benefits. Drakken had made quite a chunk of change over the last few years, selling his inventions for the betterment of mankind. Like he'd said, he kept the best stuff for himself, but there was no harm in making the planet a bit more eco-friendly, since he'd worked so hard to save it from destruction. Go City University had given him a research grant to continue perfecting his pro-planet patents. It sounded like a pretty sweet deal.
Until you realized that Drakken didn't have any new patents to perfect. He slumped against the window. The shadow of Go Tower crossed over the cab. He would think of something. He had to. Drakken looked up at the white marble tower, which climbed high up into the clouds. He sighed.
"The Tower is work of art, no?" the cabbie said. "The whole city is named for the Go family. They were into the saving the world business long before you were, Doctor."
"Oh, shut it," Drakken said, sitting upright.
"They are an inspiration," the man continued. "Was not the woman your assistant once?"
Drakken felt a vine crawl up the side of his neck. He had to remind it not to strangle the cab driver.
The driver met his gaze in the rearview mirror. The cabbie was exceptionally pale now and a single bead of sweat trickled down his pronounced brow. The vine retracted back into Drakken's neck.
"Shego was my partner once, yes," he said. Then, casting a glance back at the Tower, he bit his lip. "I wonder what she's doing now…"
This was crap. Absolute hooey. Shego crouched between the branches of the oak tree. For the last ten minutes, she had not moved. Her muscles ached. For the fiftieth time this week, she reminded herself that this was just a job and that she had done so many more degrading things in the last several years. One particular instance in which she was forced to sell ice creams to spring-breakers jumped to mind. She scowled. That was a different life, a different time. A time when she'd sworn off heroics in favor for excitement.
That Shego would never be caught dead scampering up a tree to chase a cat.
"Come on, Whiskers," she muttered. "Come to Auntie Shego."
The orange tabby licked its right paw. It looked up as it did, and if Shego didn't know better, she would have sworn it was smirking at her. This wouldn't have been half as frustrating if she didn't have a meeting across town in ten minutes. She growled under her breath.
The sound caught the cat's ears and it put its paw down. Then, after stretching, it pranced over to the thinnest part of the branch, still just out of reach. Shego inched forward. Her suit snagged on the bark. She tugged. The movement pulled the fabric free, but shook the branch just hard enough that the thin part snapped in two. Shego and Whiskers tumbled to the ground. And while the cat landed on all fours, Shego landed, unceremoniously crouched a foot away and covered in leaves. She looked up to see the cat's owner looking at her through thick bifocals.
"You could have killed him!" the woman scolded. "What were you thinking?"
"Jeez, lady," Shego said, standing up and dusting herself off. "You told me to get the cat down. You didn't tell me how to do it. So I improvised. Got a problem with it, fill out a complaint to City Hall. Capisce?"
"Oh, believe me. I will," said the woman. "Oh, none of your brothers ever give me this kind of trouble. What would they say if they knew how… how… lippy you can be?"
"Believe me, they know," Shego said. She rolled her eyes, but the word 'lippy' snagged on her heart like jumpsuit on a tree. "I'd love to stick around for a lecture, but… places to go, people to see. All that jazz."
And on that note, Shego jumped into her red convertible parked next to the green-zone. Stuck below the windshield wipers was a little, pink slip. Shego cursed under her breath and sped off. The parking ticket flew into the air and landed somewhere in the road. She was going to be late for her meeting with the temp agency. Again. Every time they had a job for her, Team Go found some menial thing for her to do on the other side of the city. When she first agreed to work with her brothers again, Shego had hoped that it would keep her busy and in the law's good graces, all while giving her a slice of the action. As if. And if the agency didn't find her a better day job, Shego just might reconsider a life of villainy just to spite her brothers. She pulled up to the temp agency and rushed inside, still in full crime-fighting regalia. She tapped her fingers against the counter.
"Hey. I'm here for an appointment with Barbara Hoffman."
The secretary looked up and snickered. Her eyes zeroed in on Shego's stomach. Shego looked down and saw that her suit had ripped just above her navel.
"Take a picture," she growled, leaning against the counter to put her bared skin out of view. "It'll last longer."
"Right," the secretary said, looking at her computer screen. "You're late, Miss Go."
"Gee, I had no idea."
"Mrs. Hoffman has other clients."
Shego growled and reached across the table. She picked the secretary up by the scruff of her turtleneck and pulled her close. Shego raised her free hand and it ignited into a green glow.
"Tell Mrs. Hoffman to clear her calendar," Shego whispered. "Or so help me—"
The secretary gulped. "You know what? Just go on in, Miss Go."
Shego set the secretary down and walked into Mrs. Hoffman' office. She'd been there a dozen times in the last three years. Her memories of the place weren't overly fond. There were new pictures of Hoffman' kids, but otherwise, everything was still decorated in a sickening shade of lavender. Shego shuddered and took a seat. Mrs. Hoffman was on the phone.
"Right," she said. "Well, a client's just walked in. … Qualified? Oh… Um…"
Shego pulled a nail file from the pouch on the leg of her suit. She started on her nails, all the while pretending to ignore Hoffman.
"Well, it's… difficult to say. I'll have to ask her. Can I call you back in fifteen? Great. Thanks, Bobby."
Hoffman put the phone down. Shego blew on her nails.
"Another substitute teaching gig?" she asked without looking up.
"Oh, no," Hoffman said firmly. "Not for you. Not after that stunt you pulled in Lowerton."
Shego grinned. "Hey. Those kids shouldn't have been on their cell phones while I was talking. I told them I had a no cellphone policy."
"They were nine!"
"Who gives nine year olds cell phones anyways?" Shego rolled her eyes and crossed her legs. She'd substituted for a pregnant math teacher at Lowerton Elementary School for all of three days before complaints started flooding in. She'd crushed about twelve cellphones by that time. Before that, she'd been asked never to return to Middleton ISD. Apparently, the exercise regimens she subjected the cheerleading squad to were "unethical". Whatever that meant. "So, what do you got for me?"
Hoffman sighed. "It's not 'for you'. GCU is looking for a qualified research assistant."
"That's me to a T, Hoffman," Shego said. "I'm probably over-qualified."
"Shego," Hoffman said, lowering her voice. "Your degree is in child development, remember?"
Shego scoffed. "Yeah, yeah. But teaching was never really my calling, y'know? I was a research assistant. For ages. I was the queen of research assistants."
"This is legitimate science, not mad science," Hoffman said, even more quietly than before. "I really, really don't think this is a good idea—"
"Look. I'm desperate to get out of the Tower for a bit," Shego said seriously. "I'll kill someone if I stick around there much longer. If it's a job you think I can do—whatever it is—it's a better idea than sticking me in the hero biz. Am I qualified or what?"
Hoffman took a deep breath. "You know you can't be in a classroom any more. You've ticked off every school district within twenty miles."
"So? It's a university job. As a research assistant. It's not like I'll be teaching the classes. Professor What's-It will. And I'll just… you know… weld things and make copies." Shego flashed Hoffman a smile. "Come on. What's the worst that could happen?"
Hoffman exhaled. "This is your last chance, Shego. I'm serious this time. If you blast anyone with your laser hands, karate-chop any more property, or even steal office supplies, I'll see to it you never work in this city again. Am I clear?"
"Crystal. When do I start?"
A/N: Many thanks to my friend, Eunice, for looking this over and giving me the confidence to jump into the KP-verse! Also, thank you to Blackfire 18 for catching my awkward phrase "crouched and unceremoniously" and inspiring me to fix it. It's all better!
Reviews are much appreciated! I'd also gladly take title suggestions, as this is currently a working title.