Disclaimer: Drakken, Shego, and all other recognizable characters, events, locations, and devices belong to Disney. I am not making a profit off of this story. If I was, the fundage would totally go towards world conquest and paying off my student loans.
The SEC laser was nowhere in sight. Already, Drakken had torn up his office, his classroom, and his laboratory in search of it. His tools, with the exception of the screwdriver, were all put away nicely. His blueprints were in a folder in the top drawer of his desk, but he couldn't find his laser. And that was a problem. If Shego was coming back today, he had to have something impressive to show her. How else was he supposed to convince her to stay? Apologies were all well and good, but he needed to wow her. To show her he was even more of a genius than he had been when they first began working together. To show her that he was worth sticking around for.
But by the time class ended, Drakken still hadn't found the SEC laser. And he still hadn't heard from Shego. Panicky bile welled up in the back of his throat. When the door to his lab opened, Drakken jumped a full foot into the air.
"Wow," Shego said. "That is some greeting."
She smiled at him. She looked about as at-ease as Drakken felt. He rubbed the back of his neck.
"The laser is gone," he told her. "Help me look."
"You lost it?" she asked, walking towards the cabinets. "How did you lose it?"
"I did not lose it!" Drakken hissed. "I put it down on the lab table when I went to look for you last night."
"It's not there now," Shego said.
"I know that!" Drakken dropped to his knees and looked under the cabinets, as if the laser was small enough to fit there.
"Well, it can't have grown legs and wandered off," Shego told him.
She crouched down and placed a hand on his back. Drakken's shoulders, which had been tight and tense, eased under her touch. He craned his neck to look at her. He wanted to touch her back, to make sure she was really real and really here. Drakken always worried that if he tried to touch her, Shego would flit off. She was impossible to pin down, not that Drakken wanted her pinned, anyways. He settled for smiling at her. She smiled back. Drakken's hands felt slippery and cold inside of his gloves. It might be better that he wasn't touching her, after all.
"You came back," he said.
"Don't I always?" said Shego.
"I didn't mean… yesterday… when I said I didn't want you—"
"I know," Shego said. "The whole swooping-in-while-I-was-busting-Electronique thing kinda gave it away."
"Right. About that—" Drakken started.
Shego shrugged. "It was a nice change of pace. The hero biz is so not for me."
"So you thought about my proposal?" asked Drakken.
"Still thinking about it," Shego said. "But it's… tempting."
"What's there to think about?" Drakken sat up and looked at her. The only time he'd been happier to see her she'd been standing on the other side of his prison cell, holding a ring of keys and wearing a slick grin.
No, Drakken thought. I think I'm happier now.
"The whole 'sidekick' issue," Shego said. "If it's gonna be you and me against the world, I think 'partner' is a more acceptable term."
Drakken bit his lip. Partner was a term he hadn't considered before. For as long as he could remember, he'd been Shego's boss. Without that clear chain of command, Shego would have walked all over him. Especially in the early days of their work. He wanted a safeguard—a guarantee—that she wouldn't plasma-blast him into next Tuesday if they were partners. She'd very seldom caused him actual physical harm (threats seemed to sate her well enough). But Drakken didn't want to find out the hard way if his title was the only thing keeping him from becoming fried-scientist-on-a-stick.
And yet… there was something tempting about making Shego his partner. Just before the Lowardian Invasion, Shego had been Drakken's partner in all but name. The term "partner" also had a warmer sound to it that made Drakken's pulse thrum happily. Shego may not share his prodigious skill in the sciences, but she was a phenomenal spy and thief. Drakken was neither. She balanced him out. And if making her partner was what it took to keep Shego around, there was only one answer.
"—Nah, it can't be a particle translator!" Drakken heard one of the Possible clones say. "It would have to be at least twice as big!"
"Well, it's not a seismic conductor!" the other Possible clone said. "At least, if it is, it doesn't work very well."
Drakken scrambled to the door of the lab and stuck his head out into the hallway. The Possible clones were a few feet away, carrying his SEC laser. The one in red held it, while the one in blue pushed buttons to no avail. Drakken gasped, but before he could march into the hall, Shego grabbed his shirt collar and tugged him back inside.
"We were negotiating, here, Doc," Shego said.
"But, Shego!" Drakken said. "Those Possible brats have my laser!"
Shego released him and walked to the door. She looked out and Drakken heard her groan.
"Didn't you lock the lab up last night?" she asked, coming back into the room and shutting the door.
"Of course I—" Drakken stopped. His shoulders slumped. "No. I didn't. I left to go look for you. Go ahead. Get the mocking out of the way."
"Sometimes, you're incredibly dumb, Doc," Shego said. "And then you do something really… sweet."
Drakken started to smile.
"Don't make the dumb part a habit," Shego told him, killing his smile immediately. "We've gotta come up with a plan to get that laser back."
"Any ideas?" asked Drakken.
Shego shrugged. "I can break into their dorm room and steal the thing."
Drakken imagined Shego sneaking around in the boys' dormitory on campus. He didn't know for certain, but chances were that the Possible clones were sharing a room in the Louis Pasteur building. The halls all looked the same and each door opened to a room shared by two or three science majors. Drakken imagined what he would have done at eighteen or nineteen if he'd woken up to see Shego rummaging through his things in the middle of the night. He didn't know if he'd be scared or flattered or intrigued. And then of course there was always the chance the Possible clones lived off campus. How would they find them? If only there was some way to pinpoint them—just them.
And then Drakken got an idea. A wonderful, horrible, perfect idea.
"No," he said. "Who needs the SEC laser? I still have my blueprints. A few modifications and it won't matter that the Possible clones have the original. Besides, every first draft could use a little revision…"
Drakken walked over to one of the cabinets to pull out more blueprint paper and pencils. He laid it all out on a lab table. And then he set to drawing. No sooner than he'd written his first equation, though, Shego's hand landed in the middle of the page.
"If we're going to be partners," she told him. "You can't keep your plans a secret like this."
"I do not keep my plans secret!" Drakken said. "I always tell you what I've been working on."
"Yeah," said Shego. "Usually you tell me after you've finished something. Or when Kimmie's just about to bust you. Tell me now, so I'm a couple steps ahead of the cheer squad when you actually try to use SEC 2.0."
Drakken thought about this. This was a prime ranting opportunity. A grin overtook his features and he took a deep breath. Shego covered his mouth.
"The abridged version, Doc," Shego said.
"Right," said Drakken from under Shego's fingers. He pried her hand off of his mouth and held it awkwardly for a moment before letting go and trying to remember his plan. She'd distracted him just a bit. "What I want to do is target those thieves specifically. And their big sister if she happens to show up. If I modify the microchip inside SEC to seek out specific genetic sequences, I can program it to aim for only my intended targets. Think of it as a weapon of selective destruction."
"And you didn't think of this before because…"
Drakken shrugged. "With Kim Possible, it was just business. But these two clones have made it personal. Who knows what they're going to do with my technology? I just need a sample of one of their DNA…"
Shego seemed to consider this for a moment. Then, she put her hands on her hips. "One thing, though. They aren't "clones"."
"Those boys are twins," Shego said. "And they might be fraternal twins. Y'know… with different DNA. And if Kimmie shows up, she'll have different DNA than both of them, even if the twins are identical."
Drakken grumbled and looked at his calculations again. After a few long minutes of silence, he shouted "Aha!" and went back to work.
"You gotta fill me in," Shego said, coming to sit on the table beside Drakken's blueprints.
"Mitochondiral DNA," he said, not looking up. "The three of them have the same mother, right?"
"They'll have the same mitochondria, then. So all I'll need is a sample of one Possible's DNA and for someone to jimmy open the lock to the biology lab." Drakken looked up and grinned. "Do you know anyone who might be good at stealing and sneaking?"
"It depends," she said evenly. "You never actually agreed to make me your partner."
"I thought it was obvious," Drakken said. "When we go back to villainy, you'll be my partner. I'll get it in writing for you."
"Oh, you'd better," Shego said. Then, pausing, she added, "But I want to be recognized and treated as your partner starting right now. Even if the university doesn't recognize it, I want you to."
Drakken nodded. "Of course."
He stuck out a hand to make the agreement official. When Shego took his hand, Drakken's throat stuck together. He swallowed hard. And then he couldn't help but worry that Shego could feel his sweaty palms underneath his gloves, which was a totally ridiculous, totally irrational thought. Drakken still couldn't keep himself from grinning like a dope.
"So the plan is to bust into the dorm room, steal some mito-whatever DNA and break into the campus bio-lab?" Shego grinned. "I think I know just the woman for the job… Partner."
The following morning, Go City University sent out an email to all faculty and students, apologizing for the campus wide black-out of security systems between the hours of 2 and 4 AM. As far as the security desk could tell, no breaches had been made. Every piece of high-tech equipment from classroom smart-boards to state-of-the-art science gizmos was accounted for and unharmed. It merely had been a fluke in the new wireless system.
Only two people on the campus knew the truth. Had the cameras been working at full-capacity at 2:05 AM, they would have caught a single figure, clad in green and black rifling through the residence hall files, and slipping into the Louis Pasteur dormitory, to emerge with only a Ziploc baggie and some hair samples five minutes later. At 2:22, the same figure used a set of lock picks to open up the biology lab. She was followed swiftly by a man with a wild-eyed grin and a frequency jammer. The woman snatched a rat from a terrarium and shoved it in the breast-pocket of the man's lab coat. They argued for a moment and the woman rolled her eyes before zapping the rat's head. It went limp and the man shuddered. Then, the pair hunched over a genomic sequencer and exited the lab by 3:57. The night guard would later swear he'd heard a man's maniacal laugh and a swift, soft "Shh". But by that point, it wouldn't matter. Dr. Drakken and Shego were back in business.
Daylight found Doctor Drakken asleep underneath his lab table. The night had been spent reprogramming and testing SEC 2.0's ability to recognize genetic codes. Drakken looked to his right. Underneath the cabinet, he could see the rat they'd tested the improved laser on, cowering to avoid another round with Drakken's latest invention. Shego had insisted they get something to test SEC 2.0 on. Something about 'if you really want a foolproof plan, you'll actually give your technology a little test spin'. They'd taken turns zapping the little guy earlier that morning. And at some point, the sun had risen and Drakken had fallen asleep. He wondered where Shego went. He looked to his left.
And there he found his answer.
Nestled at his side, Shego slept. Drakken could feel her light breathing against him; goosebumps dotted skin. He rolled onto his side. A strand of dark hair crossed Shego's face. Her lips parted just a little. Her dark make-up was faded and in the noon light, her skin was a slightly darker—perhaps flushed—green. Once upon a time, Drakken and Shego had lived and worked together. But never in the long years since they'd met had Drakken woken up beside her. They'd always been sure to get separate rooms while travelling. Sure, there had been times when one of them helmed the controls of the hovercraft and the other snoozed, but when your eyes were on the road (or the air), you couldn't very well look at your passengers. Shego still wore her green and black jumpsuit and it served as a reminder that when she woke up, she could still kick his butt. Drakken smiled.
And then with sudden, dull horror, he realized he couldn't move his left arm.
He looked at it. Somehow, while Drakken slept, his left arm coiled around Shego's waist and held her to him. Panic set in. He had to move his arm before Shego woke up and saw. He had to avoid waking her. He had to—
Drakken's yellow flower petals sprouted around his face. He groaned and without even attempting to be gentle, ripped away from Shego's side. She woke up with a start. Drakken sat bolt-upright and hit his head on the underside of his table.
"Doctor Drakken? What the-?"
"We weren't cuddling!"
Drakken rubbed his head and stared at Shego. She sat up, shoulders hunched so she didn't hit the table with her head. She didn't look as peaceful as she had while asleep, nor did she seem ready to karate-chop him in half. Instead, she blinked hard a few times.
"I didn't say we were," Shego said.
"Right. Reflex," said Drakken.
"Uh-huh." Shego looked at him. She cocked her head. "You were holding me, weren't you?"
"No," Drakken said quickly. He remembered the flower petals and realized that they probably weren't making him look credible. He started to rip them off. "That's ridiculous."
Shego reached over and plucked a flower petal off of Drakken's face. He couldn't help but to flush furiously.
"I mean," he said. "We don't cuddle. We're supervillains."
"We were supervillains," Shego said. "We are going to be supervillains. Right now, we aren't. Right now, we're in danger of becoming a living, breathing cliché. So. Tell me. Were you holding me?"
"Cliché?" Drakken repeated. "What do you mean cliché?"
"Oh, you know," Shego said lightly. A kind of smirk twisted its way onto her lips. She twisted the flower petal in her hands. "Professor and assistant fooling around in the lab."
"That's crazy!" Drakken said. "And—frankly—insulting."
The flower petal in Shego's hands ripped.
"I mean," Drakken said. "What kind of man do you take me for, Shego? I would never do that to you. I'm a supervillain, not some immoral-!"
"Easy, chief. I didn't mean that we'd slept together," Shego said, cutting him off swiftly before he could rant. "I meant that we… y'know… slept together. I meant sleeping just to sleep. With maybe some cuddling thrown in. Yeesh. I didn't mean anything like—"
"Neither did I!" Drakken said almost too quickly. At this point, his cheeks and ears were practically purple from blushing. "But, it's not like we would do the other thing either. The cuddling thing."
"Oh really?" Shego lifted an eyebrow.
"Really," Drakken said. The protest even sounded lame to him. "This is a purely professional relationship. We're partners, Shego. Not… you know. We're partners."
He didn't want her to think he'd taken advantage of her. He hadn't. They'd just accidentally cuddled. Things weren't allowed to change between them again. Everything had just finally started to feel normal.
Except cuddling had actually felt better than normal. Holding Shego felt so natural that Drakken hadn't noticed anything amiss until he realized that Shego might not want him cuddling her. Neither of them were particularly touchy-feely people anyways. And yet, Drakken's throat constricted as he spoke. He looked at the stray lock of hair that still lingered on Shego's cheek. He beat down the urge to brush it away.
Shego's hands ignited. Drakken flinched. His eyes squeezed shut, waiting for impact, but no pain came. He opened one eye and he saw that the petal Shego had been holding was now a pile of ash in her hands.
"Let's just forget about the cuddling," Shego said. Her voice sounded tight. Drakken frowned. Now that Shego said to forget about it, he couldn't help but think about cuddling her. He could remember the circumstances of last night very clearly now that he was awake. He'd crawled under the table to look for the rat after it scampered off. They'd just successfully zapped it between the ears and created a bald spot. SEC 2.0 was a go. And before Drakken could even bother to look for the rat to give the laser one last test, he leaned back and smiled.
"I'm telling you, Shego," he said when she came under the table to look for him. "This plan is—"
"Don't say it," Shego said, sitting beside him. "Every time you say it, something goes wrong."
Drakken nodded and hung his head. He felt light pressure on his shoulder. He expected Shego to be gripping him. Instead, her head leaned on the jointure between his neck and shoulder.
"But I gotta hand it to you, Doc," she said. "I'm impressed."
"Really?" Drakken asked.
"Jeez," said Shego. "You act like you've never heard me compliment you."
Drakken shrugged. "Usually at this stage in the game, you're all mock."
"So I'm mixing things up a bit," Shego said. She shut her eyes and snuggled closer to Drakken.
"Should we test the laser again?" he asked.
Shego opened a bleary eye and rolled it. "I'm tired. I'm going to sleep."
"On my arm?" Drakken asked.
"Do you keep pillows in the lab?" Shego opened both eyes and looked at him. Drakken shook his head. "Then, yes. On your arm."
"I'm not a human pillow!" said Drakken.
"Whatever," mumbled Shego. "Go to sleep, Doc. We'll test your laser in the morning."
Drakken hunkered down beside her and rolled onto his side, so that Shego's head leaned against his chest. He put his head in the crook of her neck.
"If you're using me as a pillow, I'm using you as a pillow," Drakken told her. "It's only fair."
Shego tugged Drakken's arm and draped it over her. "Fine. I'm using you as a blanket."
"No fair! I can't—"
But Drakken's protests went unheard. Shego fell asleep faster than any other person Drakken had ever met. And soon enough, her steady breathing lulled him to sleep, too. They must have stayed like that all night. Just thinking about it made Drakken feel sticky on the inside. It was like someone had melted his innards and turned them into silly putty.
"Let's give that laser one last test," Shego told him. "And then I'm gonna go home for a shower."
"No need, Shego," Drakken said, crawling out from under the lab table. "We know SEC 2.0 works. We merely need to add the code that will seek out Possible mitochondrial DNA sequences—"
"That's all you," Shego told him. She came out from under the table. "Just let me know when it's time to vaporize the Possibles."
"I'll pick you up," Drakken told her. "We'll want the hovercraft's engine going, just in case this all goes… well… like it usually does."
Shego looked at him. "You really think things are gonna be 'business as usual'?"
Drakken hesitated. "I don't know. Maybe not. You said last night that you were impressed…?"
"That was last night," Shego said. "I thought we agreed to forget about it."
"You said forget about the cuddling," Drakken said. "Not to forget about what led up to the cuddling."
"So you were holding me."
"Nrrgh!" Drakken threw his arms up in the air. "So what, Shego? It was an accident! And if I remember correctly, you initiated the touching! Do you want me to apologize for something you started?"
"You didn't have to keep holding me."
"You weren't complaining!"
"Who said I was complaining now?" Shego asked. She pressed a hand to her forehead. "Ugh. I said 'forget it'. So, really, we shouldn't even be having this conversation. I'm going home to shower. Don't you have afternoon classes or papers to grade or—Gee, I don't know—a laser to finish programming?"
"Oh, that's just great. You get to go home and shower and I have to stay here by myself and do the rest of the work!"
"Pretty much, yeah," Shego said, walking towards the door. "I gotta clear my head."
"I'll pick you up at eight," Drakken told her. "We can start brainstorming a trap for the Possible clones… erm… twins tonight."
"As long as it isn't another all-nighter, I'm in," Shego said.
"Great, it's a—" Drakken stopped. Not a "date." This was nothing but professional. After all, Shego didn't want to remember the cuddling, which probably meant he was very lucky she agreed to come back at all. He met her gaze. Something flickered in her eyes, but that died the second Drakken spoke again. "—Deal. Have your bags packed, just in case."
Shego lingered in the doorway for just a moment longer. For a minute, she and Drakken looked at each other quietly. Then Drakken busied himself with the laser until he couldn't feel her eyes on him anymore. Only when he was sure she was gone, did Drakken let himself smile.
A/N: Before the question is asked (in case it is asked), nothing happened beyond cuddling. Their memories are fully intact and unimpaired. This story is rate K+ and I'm doing my absolute best to stick to that. I'm aware that this means that this chapter is fluff-filled (particularly in comparison to previous chapters). But… Gotta keep moving forward somehow! There should be about three more chapters left to go in this baby. Thank you to all of you who have stuck with and who continue to stick with this story! There will be a few edits made to previous chapters for posterity's sake. Nothing too drastic; I will keep y'all posted if something changes.
Now, to answer real questions and to do my usual shout-outs.
GhibliGirl91: How was this for a hint? ;) There's more DS goodness (evilness?) to come!
Slyrr: They're just the regular, run-of-the-mill tweebs. Drakken calls them "clones" in "The Twin Factor". He has very little contact with them in the series otherwise, so I just kind of... ran with it. I hope it didn't cause too much confusion!
Blackfire18: Welcome aboard! Your in-depth reviews (and late-night discussions) are absolute delights. Shego is deliberately hard to get a read on. This chapter is probably most telling thus far, but you will get a proper answer. I promise! There will be no more flash-backing to Switzerland. If you could tell me what spelling error you found, that would be much appreciated. I'll fine-tooth comb this puppy once I'm done writing. Storytelling is my chief priority at the moment. :)
heyy, Eienvine, and CB73: Thanks, guys! It's good to see y'all returning for more! I hope you- and everyone else- find(s) this chapter satisfactory!
A big thank-you goes to my roommate, for her support in writing this chapter. Her willingness to brainstorm with me, double check my sentence construction and to watch a couple hours of KP a week with me is the whole reason this story is getting completed on time. Love to everyone reading and reviewing!