The Hardest Mission
Chapter 12. Do Right
Kim parked the bike outside of Ron's place. It felt a bit odd going back to bikes, but after the way she landed the Sloth, well…
She shook her head. It wasn't the time to focus on that. Instead, she turned her face to look at the girl clinging on her back.
Agni sighed, getting off the bike's extra seat.
"As ready as I'll ever be." she replied with a half-intended smile.
"C'mon, it's your party." she reminded her, "You and Joss earned this."
She shrugged, "Whatever, let's get this over with."
"You sure nothing hurts, right?"
Agni rolled her eyes, "For the last time, I'm fine!" she spoke, exasperated, "I mean, seriously! You know my mom and I heal faster than normal!"
"I'm just making sure…" she replied, walking towards the door and knocking the door.
"Well, here goes nothing…" Agni commented.
The door was opened by Joss, nonetheless! And sporting a new eye patch over her missing eye, which… actually looked pretty cool, Agni had to admit.
"Howdy!" she said enthusiastically, "'bout time ya'll 'arrived! Ah was done cloggin' all the attention ages ago!"
Agni looked at her friend up and down with bewildered eyes.
"Ya can stand already!?"
"I… was wondering the same thing." Kim added, remembering the lamentable state of her cousin's legs two days ago…
"Who ya think yer dealin' with, uh?" she replied with a wide grin.
"JOSSIE!" they all heard Anne yell. Joss suddenly looked mortified.
The redhead doctor soon showed up with a short crutch in hand.
"What did I tell you!? We agreed to no wheelchair only on the condition you used the crutch!" she voiced.
Only then Agni noticed that, indeed, Joss was putting most of her weight in her right leg. Presumably the least wounded one.
"But aunty! Ah can walk jus' fine!" the farm girl replied with a pout.
"No buts, young lady!" Anne retorted back, raising forth the crutch for Agni to hold.
Joss sighed, but still took the offered item, and using it to move past the door, "Wish AH had healin' powers too…"
"Moot point," her friend replied as she and Kim walked in, "I'm still being treated like I'm made of sugar glass!"
While Anne greeted her daughter, Agni looked around the house, seeing the Stoppables talking with James at the table, plus the Tweebs momentarily entertaining Hana. Not really much of a "party" but more of a family celebration, she'd say.
She had been told someone else would be here, though… specially if she was gonna consider this a family celebration.
"Hey, Green," Joss called.
"Ronald wanted to talk with ya," she informed, "He's in the kitchen."
She shrugged, but began walking towards said place. She stopped midway, though, turning back to face her partner.
"Don't stress your body, alright?" she replied, "School's starting soon. You don't want to go around there limping."
Without waiting for an answer, the green girl headed for the kitchen, finding the blond sidekick inside. He was wearing an apron and chef's hat, and currently happened to be taking some cupcakes out of the oven. Well, at least there was something to look forward to.
"Agni!" he exclaimed once he saw her.
The young girl couldn't help briefly staring, and cringe on the inside, at the man's still bruised face. If he noticed, which was unlikely, but if for some miracle he noticed, he didn't shown any concern about it.
"H-hey there…" she began, but before she could say another word, she was practically glomped by the young man, his arms surrounding her in a tight hug.
On one hand: 'Well, at least someone doesn't treat me like a porcelain doll…'
On the other: "What's this freaking for already?!"
"Thank you," he said, sounding like he was about to cry, "Thanks for taking care of Hana…"
"Seriously!?" she replied, "You already thanked me for this! Like twenty times!"
"Still…" he said, taking some distance to look at her in the eyes while keeping his hands on her shoulders, "I owe ya, really. And I wanted you to know that if you ever want anything from me, anything at all, just… don't hesitate to ask, alright?"
She sighed, but patted one of his hands.
"Alright, I get it. You don't need to worry…"
"Just… thanks, forever thanks, Agni…"
She let a small smile happen on her face for a moment before suddenly getting a clever idea.
"Hey… I used to think I'd have to be eighteen and get drunk before I could say anything like this, but… there is something I think you could help me with."
"Oh, really?!" he asked, his face beaming with excitement. Apparently he was more than glad to be able to repay the favor.
"Yeah, well… could you actually teach me to cook like you do?"
He actually looked surprised at that request.
"You wanna learn to cook?"
She rolled her eyes, "Hey, if I'm gonna live with the queen of all sorts of kitchen accidents, someone's gotta keep us fed or we'll end up wasting a fortune on take outs!"
He patted her shoulders. "Say no more, my young Padawan! I'll make of you the best chef in the entire galaxy!"
As if to add to the point, the naked mole-rat had exited his owner's pocket and already climbed up his head, taking the chef's hat off of him and placing it atop the young girl.
"The best!" he added after landing on Ron's shoulder.
"Well, said, buddy!" clasping his finger against his pet's paw. Their version of a high-five.
On her end, Agni was simply rolling her eyes. She supposed she'd better prepare herself to run down her patience if she was going to spend this much time with Chef Goldilocks.
"Alright, alright, enough with being so nice!" she declared, taking a couple of steps back for the sake of personal space, "Let's just… settle a time and place for this."
"Well, we can do it on weekends." he suggested.
"Deal." she replied, taking the chef hat out of her head and putting it back on the blond, "I'll leave ya to your cooking."
"Looking forward to it!" Ron mentioned while she exited the kitchen.
Once back in the living room, Agni noticed two other people had arrived: Wade and Monique. They were both being greeted by Kim, but it wasn't long before they noticed her. Agni thought of searching for Joss just to have an excuse to escape the, in her opinion, unnecessary flattery that she knew was coming her way, but alas, she knew she would be delaying the inevitable. So better bite the bullet, she guessed.
"Congratulations for the lil' hero!" Monique said, bending over to kiss the girl's forehead.
'You could've left "lil" behind…' she thought before replying, "Yeah, yeah, I'm awesome, I deserve all the praise, and blah, blah, blah. Either get over it or go straight to something more unique to say already!"
Not fazed by girls admittedly expected behavior, Wade and Monique just looked at each other, shrugged and smiled. Wade took something out of the jacket he was wearing and handed it to Agni.
"What the…?" she began, taking the item in her hands with wide open eyes.
"Your own Kimmunicator," Wade declared, "It's all yours."
She was about to complain about the device that was supposedly hers being called like that, but, then again, as much as she liked her own name, even she didn't feel like "Agnimunicator" had a good ring to it.
"So… this like a prize or something?"
The young genius shrugged. "Take it as you like. It's yours."
She was already toying with its functions. The device was shaped like those modern, tactile-screen phones that ruled the market nowadays, but coming from Nerdestein, she could already bet that it was certainly way better than any other. She was already toying with its functions. Apparently Wade even installed games for her!
"I also got one to give Joss," he commented.
"You're giving Montana technology?" she asked, "What's next, you're gonna give your boss a copy of my mom's manual to great thieving?"
He rolled her eyes.
"I'm sure she can handle it. Besides…"
"Wait," Monique interrupted, "Your mother doesn't actually have a thieving manual, does she?"
Now it was Agni's turn to roll her eyes.
"Heck yeah!" she replied, "If she ever writes one, make sure to get me a copy!"
For a moment there, Agni didn't know whenever to take that as a joke or if to be really scared. She almost wanted to pray to god that it was a joke. If there was anything she was certain she could say about Monique, it's that the Afro-American woman somehow never failed to be unpredictable.
"Where is Joss, anyway?" Wade asked.
"She was here just a minute ago…"
"Hey, Mon, Wade, how'ya guys doing?" Ron called from the kitchen once he spotted his friends.
"BRB, gotta kiss the cook!" Monique said before dashing towards the kitchen.
"If you see Joss, tell her to come see me."
She shrugged and mumbled "Whatever" under her breath before going back to play with her new toy. Soon she came across the GPS function and man, did it work faster than any other she'd seen. As soon as the program finished loading (which was about three seconds top), the screen was already displaying a few special dots. It didn't take long for Agni to realize what they were: The Kimmunicators.
She zoomed in right over Ron's place. There was her, and then there was Ron's in the kitchen, and… two others right beside him. Right, Wade had Joss' Kimmunicator along, but what about the other? Did Monique have one? Nah, it was probably one Wade had for himself or a similar device. Then there was Kim… which, according to the GPS, should be… right beside her? But Kim, like Joss, wasn't anywhere to be seen in the room.
'Did she go upstairs?'
Looking at the stairs leading to the upper floors of the house, Joss happened to be descending from them, step by step, following her instructions to use the crutch. Curious as to why her friend would have any reason to head upstairs, she walked towards the brunette.
"Hey," she called, "something's up?"
"Yeah," she replied as she finally got down the final steps, "Your mother just arrived."
"She's here!?" she said, her excitement betraying her expression.
Joss had to raise the crutch by her said to halt the green girl from rushing upstairs that very instant, earning herself a questioning stare from her friend.
"She's with my cus." she explained, "They… Kim said they needed some time to talk in private."
"Oh…" she voiced, a hint of sadness in her voice as she recalled a rather recent night. Her eyes then suddenly went wide open, "Wait, you mean talking talking, or…?"
"Talking talking." Joss quickly clarified, getting a relieved sigh out of Agni, "Don't worry, your mom will be down here in a few minutes."
Well, this was… awkward.
Not exactly because their relationship was currently anything but the best of situations, but because they had spent already five minutes at Ron's bedroom and in each other's presence and had yet to actually exchange some words…
While silent, though, their bodies were pretty expressive, if only to express their own discomfort with the situation. More than once, one of them would seem like she was about to say something, but then halt herself at the last instant.
"I…" Shego said first… but even then didn't know how to follow.
However, that word alone was enough of a trigger for Kim to decide that enough was enough. She shook her head and her stupid worries away, took a deep breath, walked towards the taller woman, and though for a moment Shego thought she was about to get slapped (if she was lucky), the second after she closed her eyes, reading herself to whatever punishment Kim deserved to deliver, she found wrapped around the redhead's arms instead.
As impossible as it seemed, Shego felt even more muted than before. Kim wasn't saying anything, though. She simply held the thief into a tight but gentle embrace, her face buried in the woman's neck. A moment later, the green woman got the message, and instantly returned the embrace.
Sometimes… words just weren't the way to communicate feelings…
And this was certainly a better way than that of two days ago…
Two days ago…
Fighting was, under a certain perspective, one of the world's oldest forms of art. The way of wielding your body like a deadly weapon.
Violence was ugly, nasty, and unpleasant to deliver, to receive, and even to watch.
Rivalry was passionate and demanding. At its best satisfying, yet at its worst, excruciating.
Competition was challenging, whenever it was unfair or honorable. It brought out your all.
But this wasn't fighting, violence, rivalry nor competition.
What Kim and Shego were having was above all that.
It was, in every conceivable form, a clash of wills. A direct encounter of two forces going all the way against one another. And "All the way" was not a figure of speech. It was the literal description of what was going on.
The two fighters were holding absolutely nothing back. True to themselves and more determined than ever, both women were putting it all into this fight. No efforts withheld, no pulled punches, no rests neither given nor taken. Both combatants were absolutely relentless, not letting a single opportunity for attack to pass them by, and not letting any of the pain they were receiving slow them down even one bit.
To anyone witnessing the fight, either right there in the museum or what was being transmitted on TV, they could only wonder in awe how these two young women could take so much punishment and still be standing. For them, it was like the pain didn't even exist.
Ron in particular felt rather impressed by Kim, who's fighting style was certainly far more aggressive than it usually was. She wasn't even dodging Shego's blasts of plasma like she often did. Most of them she was deflecting, and if dodging them, she did so while running, jumping or whatever means she was heading towards her foe.
Relentless and absolute, that was the only way this confrontation could be defined.
And so caught up he was in the battle, that he didn't notice the Kimmunicator demanding for his attention until Wade made the device move on its own out of his pocket and crawl up to his shoulder.
"RON!" he yelled directly at the blond's ear.
The sidekick yelped and jumped where he stood, knocking the device out of him, but – realizing what it was – he managed to capture it before it fell on the ground.
"Wade!" he called, "What's the matter, man? You almost gave me a heart attack!"
"You weren't responding…"
"What? You mean I had a heart attack!?"
Wade slapped his own face. How could it be that he always ended up caught in this sort of conversations with Ron, anyway?
"No, not that!" he replied, deciding he better get to the point instead of wasting any more time.
On their part, Kim and Shego weren't willing to give each other the slightest break. But while they were both putting all of themselves into this, one's emotions were wilder.
Already irritated to hell and beyond for what should have been just a short mission, Shego charged her fist in flares and directed it to Kim, who clashed her own punch against hers. What was beyond irritating, though, was that the resulting explosion affected her more than it did to the redhead!
She'd cut her tongue before admitting it, but deep inside, a part of her was actually scared. She had been at the receiving end of Kim's unleashed anger once, and barely walked out of it. This time, she was better prepared, but still… who knew what the slightest mistake would cost her…
Deciding she needed to one-up her game, even at this point, she jumped away, blasting plasma not just as another attack towards her opponent, but also to gain some more distance. Once she had that, she ignited both hands and violently smashed them against the floor.
The ground before Kim's feet suddenly exploded.
"KIM!" they heard Ron screaming, but didn't let it deter their actions.
Kim jumped backwards performing a backflip to avoid most of the flying pieces of concrete. One in particular, though, that also happened to be notably big, was heading straight at her, so she couldn't avoid it.
So instead, she kicked it back the way it came from.
"Kim! You need to stop!"
Shego took a hard hit from the rock, but sustained it nonetheless. Her problem, though, was in less than two seconds Kim was already back in front of her.
Realizing going into offensive wouldn't save her from this, Shego instead drew Kim's next strike towards herself and applied a judo pull and technique over her arm, rolling her opponent over her shoulder and – using the redhead's amazing speed for momentum – throwing her fast enough to reach the wall.
Wherein Kim laded by flexing her legs, and bounced back from, spinning over herself in the process and landing on Shego with a drop kick the older woman had no option but to absorb.
An opportunity Kim Possible would not let escape.
After flexing her legs into Shego's defending arms once more, Kim simultaneously kicked her again, sending Shego against the ground, and jumped into the air, where she spun and pulled back the fist she was bringing down to Shego this instant.
Shego raised her arms in defense, already expecting the worse…
But it never came.
Something intercepted the redhead's attack. Someone, to be precise. The body fell hard to the ground, half of it atop Shego. Both women's eyes went wide upon seeing who it was.
"RON!" Kim screamed.
Sitting up, Shego turned Ron's body face up, helping him sit up as well.
His face did not look okay…
"Ron, you okay!?" Kim asked, kneeling beside him.
Shego looked at Kim for a moment before looking back at Ron. It was weird, she thought, how seconds ago they were pretty much ready to murder each other, and now, all that ire and fervor had been automatically left behind.
Such was the power of Ron Stoppable, uh…
"F-fine!" he replied as he could. Apparently, it hurt to speak, "But-!"
Rather than going on speaking, he simply picked the Kimmunicator and raised it between both women.
"Kim, Shego!" Wade called, "It's an emergency! The girls!"
Thinking back on it, Shego had to admit that she was impressed not just by the young girls holding the ground against such a big group of genetically enhanced ninja monkeys, but by themselves as well considering how fast they left everything aside, got into the Sloth, and flew back to the States to rescue the girls faster than any jet could ever dare. She barely recalled how Wade was putting the pieces together during the flight, discovering that the person who hired Shego to perform that assault on the museum and the person that sent Kim the information to track down Shego were the one and the same: The monster her daughters were fighting against, and who they were going after at full speed.
The vehicle did not survive the emergency landing, though… but then again, considering what Agni told her, that alone might have been what let her daughter and Joss survive…
"Kimmie…" she spoke, regretting to break the moment, but forgetting about that right on the next one, "how's your lil' cousin?"
"Joss' fine," she replied, "thanks for asking."
'You're welcome,' she felt like saying, but kept it to herself.
For the sake of avoiding falling into another awkward silence, she asked the next thing that came to her mind.
"What about Doof… what about Ronald?"
Kim chuckled for a moment at Shego's attempt to remain polite.
"He's fine. His face's still sore, but he's got a higher resistance to pain that you would expect."
"He keeps surpassing my expectations," she replied with a small smile, "I'll give him that."
Kim blinked upon realizing something was off.
"Aren't you gonna ask about your daughter?"
"I know my daughter's fine," she retorted. She knew well enough how effective were the healing powers that she, her brothers and her daughter were blessed with. Her mind then realized Kim might have been meaning something else, "I just…"
Kim waited for her to go on, but Shego had fallen silent.
"You just what?"
The older woman took a deep breath before continuing.
"I've been doing a lot of thinking these last two days," she mentioned while sitting down on Ron's bed for comfort, "About how I've been living my life, how I'm living today, and how I want to live from here on…"
"And more importantly…" she went on, "how these things affect those around me."
Kim didn't say anything, just sat on the bed alongside the older woman, one hand placed on her shoulder for reassurance.
"Nine years ago," Shego followed, her voice trembling more and more with every word, "when that… that monster stepped into our lives… I… I did wrong to my daughter, to the most important person in my life. I… I almost…"
"I know." the redhead spoke, saving her girlfriend from doing ill to herself.
"I… I always felt that I couldn't possibly ever hurt her more than that, but not only was I wrong, but… I proceeded to do just that immediately afterwards…"
Tears began falling down her face. Kim simply held her hand tightly while rubbing her back.
"I left her… I ran away from my own daughter right when she needed me most. I abandoned her, and been running away from her ever since, too scared to face what I had done to own up to it…"
She sniffed, rubbing her face with her hand for a moment before raising her head to look at Kim.
"Even you… I used you as a tool to stay away from her…"
"That's not true and you know it," Kim replied.
"It's true that you did run away from her in the past," she replied, "but I know that during the last few months, you've been doing your best to make it up to her."
"You think I didn't notice?" she asked before going on, "Every time you came to visit Agni, I could tell you were scared. Honestly, it was obvious. My mom commented about it more than once. But… but you did it anyway. You've been trying, little by little, to shorten the distance between you and your daughter."
She raised Shego's hand between them, holding it tightly as she looked intensely into her lover's eyes.
"And that means something, Shego. That's important, for both you and Agni, so don't say you're just doing wrong…"
"Kimmie…" Shego spoke, but then lowered her head.
Even though Kim's words were meant to soothe the older woman, they also pained her deeply. It made the decisions she had taken all the harder to carry out, but… for everything she felt for Kim, she had to do this.
"You're too good for me, Kimmie…" she said, shocking her lowered head.
"Mh?" the younger woman voiced, confused as to why her rival and partner would say that.
"You… you deserve better than me, Princess…"
The meaning behind Shego's insinuations then fell right into place in Kim's head, and it hit her harder that any punch Shego ever delivered.
"You… you're breaking up with me!?"
Placing her other hands on Kim's shoulder, Shego put some distance between them.
"I… I need to, Princess…"
A part of Kim wanted to yell, get offended and do anything in her power to change her (former?) girlfriend's mind, but…
…but a part of her noticed the pain put in the word "Need". It meant Shego didn't want to break up with her, but… something was demanding it? But what could that be?
Taking a deep breath, Kim commanded herself to stay calm and be understanding before speaking again.
"Why?" she asked, managing to sound calm, "What are you planning to do?"
"I'm going on a trip," she replied, "I need to… to… I believe it'll help me find the path that's right for me."
Kim could understand that reasoning, but couldn't help getting irritated from Shego obviously hiding something in there. She needed to take another deep breath before continuing.
"Where are you going?" she asked, this time her tone betraying her slightly.
Shego thought about it for a moment before replying.
"I shouldn't tell you about it, Princess…"
"Where to, Shego?" Kim demanded to know.
This time, it was the green woman's time to sigh, "Alright, alright… I feared I'd have to, anyway."
She straightened up, and shifted her position in the bed to look straight at Kim. The redhead did the same.
"You know that ninja school that your sidek… that Ronald attended to?"
"Yama-nouchi, yeah." she replied, "I'm surprised you know about that."
"I learned about it from Fiske, some years ago." she explained, a frown dominating her expression for having to remember that asshole that set them up. Still, she went on, "Thing is… they are not the only one of their kind."
"…what?" the redhead asked, clearly looking confused.
"When I left my home, and family, all those years ago, I wandered aimlessly for a while, but… somehow I ended up finding this place: The Kage-Kyö School."
"Both schools actually have the same roots, for what I gather, but as of today, they are as different as it gets. The Yama-Nouchi, they basically follow the way of the Samurai, even if they don't limit themselves to using Katanas. My school, though… let's just say, they don't share the same values."
"Did you train there?"
"For a while, yeah, and while they don't value honor much, they do focus on what you may call… the 'true self'."
"And you think that may help you?"
"It did once, as far as I would let it…"
She arched an eyebrow, "What do you mean?"
"Last time I was there, I learned much about myself," she replied, sounding like she was reliving quite the amazement, "even things I hadn't even imagined before. But… for any of this to actually help you, first you got to accept it as a part of you."
Another deep breath, "It's a progressive work, you may say, and… I could only go so far…"
"Do you… regret it?"
"I haven't… 'til recently."
Kim nodded, and reached out for Shego's shoulder.
"I…" she began, but then adverted her eyes, thought about it for a moment, then shook her head, before actually replaying, "I can't say I understand or relate to this, but… if you honestly feel you need this, then… I won't stop you."
She stopped for a moment, giving Shego a chance to say something. When the older woman didn't, she went on.
"That said, though, there's…"
"Questions?" Shego finished for her, "Shoot."
'What about us?'
"What about Agni?"
"I'll talk to her now," the mother said, her expression dropping, "that's gonna be the hard part."
"Alright then…" she replied, turning around to sitting straight on the bed.
Shego might not be the most romantic partner ever, but even she wasn't that tactless. She slowly reached out and placed her hand on Kim's shoulder.
"Don't call me that." she replied.
Shego had to bite down some anger before proceeding. "Kim…mie, look, I understand if you're angry, but… I don't think I could maintain a long distance relationship, even if I tried."
Kim didn't reply, didn't even look at Shego.
"Maybe, someday… if you… if we're both up to it, then we can…"
"It's your life, Shego." her now ex-girlfriend replied, "Do with it as you see fit."
She then looked up, to Ron's room's window, where her reflection looked back at her. Though lessened, Kim could still notice, even in the window's dim reflection, her black eye.
The night she got it, she knew that a relationship with Shego would be… not necessarily impossible, but most certainly a hard one to hold on to. Not just because of their background, but for their very nature. Ever since then, a part of her wanted to end their relationship for the sake of both of them, but feelings she still had for the green woman kept her from doing so. Moreover, just tonight, seeing Shego make an effort to make up with her for what happened before made Kim feel like falling in love all over again.
Yet Shego had other plans…
She inhaled deeply, feeling her entire body shudder as she did so. She wouldn't cry, nor get angry. Not now…
"Thanks, Kim…" Shego replied, "I can only pray Agni will be as understanding…"
"Don't keep her waiting any longer." Kim spoke in a surprisingly neutral tone as she stood up, "And… you don't have to worry."
"No matter what happens," Kim went on, turning around to face Shego, "I'll look after Agni."
Shego stood up, and hesitated. She wanted to say 'thank you', but she knew, she saw it for herself, that Kim was doing this not for her, because she wanted to. So instead, she simply and softly placed her hand on her ex-girlfriend's shoulder, giving her the kindest expression in her face that she could accomplish.
Kim only returned a sad, half smile, but nodded nonetheless. Without saying another word, they left the room and headed back downstairs.
"I'm telling you," Agni kept explaining to Joss, "we just need to find something to blackmail Nerdlinger with and he'll give us some of the missions!"
"We're NOT blackmailin' Wade!" Joss retorted, "Besides, do ya jus WANNA get us in more horseshit now or what!?
"tI'll just be the easy missions! The ones he knows we can handle!" Agni insisted, "That way, little by little we'll be climbing up the ladder!"
"We're climbin' it legit!" Joss insisted, "Also, by the way, Ah think your momma's comin' down."
Agni stood up on the couch where she and Joss were talking to look behind it, seeing that, indeed, her mother and Kim coming down to the living room.
On her part, Shego felt… rather awkward. She had met the Possibles and been at Kimmie's house several times, but she had never been at the Stoppables' house nor had she ever met Ron's parents. She waved her hand at anyone she made eye-contact with, preferring to keep it all short and simple. She didn't have any reasons to speak with anyone but Kim and Agni, and she had already done half of that.
Upon noticing her daughter, Shego was just about to go to her. Her intentions, however, were interrupted when two persons came to greet her in a more personal manner than she would have hoped.
"Good evening, miss." the blonde woman – Ron's mother, she assumed – said while bowing before Shego.
"Nice to meet you." the overweight short man accompanying her spoke, raising his hand to shake hers, "My name is Dan Stoppable."
"S-Shego," she replied while tentatively consenting to the shake.
"And I'm Mariam Stoppable." his wife introduced herself, "We've heard a lot about you."
The green thief raised a curious eyebrow.
"Can't be very good," she said between sarcasm and nervousness.
"Well, you'd be right…" Mariam agreed, "but we also know you're Agni's mother."
It felt weird to hear people she didn't even know talking about her daughter.
"And your daughter saved our little baby's life." Dan added.
'Oh, right!' Shego went on her mind, wanting to slap herself silly for not making this connection sooner. Of course Ron wasn't going to be the only one deeply thankful to Agni for saving that toddler.
"We're so grateful to you…" Mariam spoke, taking Shego's hands between her own and holding them tightly yet comfortingly between their chests, "You've raised a wonderful daughter…"
"I…" she began, but her words died in her mouth. 'I didn't RAISE her…!'
"We know you're not the most socially adept person in the world," Dan followed, placing his hand on the green woman's shoulder, "but we want you to know that, whenever you need it, Miss, no matter the reason… you're always welcome in our house."
Mariam nodded, and for a moment Shego was left mute, staring back and forth between the couple. Eventually she finally gathered her wits and nodded back.
"T-thank you," she spoke, "you're… really kind, but… right now, I need to speak with my daughter."
"Oh, sorry to interrupt you." the blonde mother apologized, letting go of Shego's hand while Dan let go of her shoulder.
"Go ahead, please. Make yourself at home." the overweight man added, stepping aside to let her pass.
Shego just headed for her daughter. Dan went back to the table and to his conversation with James. Mariam, for her part, watched the so called criminal woman as she awkwardly walked to her daughter and caressed the young girl's wild hair, earning a playful complaint from her.
And then she realized she wasn't the only one contemplating such an event.
"Oh, Kim!" she exclaimed, slightly shaken that the redhead teenager had been standing just by her side and she didn't immediately realize. "How are you doing?"
"Just fine." Kim replied simply, turning to face the blonde woman, "Excuse me, but… have you seen Ron?"
"He's in the kitchen, dear." she replied.
"Thank you," the redhead said before heading into said direction.
When Mariam returned to the table with her husband and James, Dan couldn't help noticing there was something off with his wife.
"It's everything okay, dear?"
"Well…" she began, her eyes then focusing on James, "Is everything okay with Kimberly?"
He blinked, apparently confused.
"She was just fine when we spoke this morning," he replied, "even cheerful, I'd say."
"Did she seem troubled to you?" Dan asked.
"Not troubled, but more like… sad."
James looked for his daughter around the house, barely catching her before she disappeared into the kitchen. He then focused back on Mariam.
"Think I should talk with her?"
But the blonde mother shook her head. "If she needs to talk… she'll come around."
"I sure hope so…" he replied, sounding slightly worried.
"Besides," Mariam followed, "I think she may be dealing with whatever's on her mind even as we speak…"
Monique, Wade and Ron were lively chatting in the kitchen as Ron prepared a second batch of cupcakes for the reunion. The guys were telling Monique details about the recent mission (which came up when she asked about his bruised face), or they'd be reminiscing of the older two's days at high-school, when things weren't… okay, they were weird, just not this present day level of weirdness.
All of them then turned to the direction of the voice's source, surprised to find Kim unexpectedly close to them. How was it that no one heard her coming? And why did her voice sound so… ethereal?
"Can I have a moment alone with you?" she said with such neutrality and such null expression on her face that she might as well have been a robot.
This wasn't a facet of her that Ron was unfamiliar with, though.
"Sure." he said, leaving a tray of muffins on the table before heading for the backdoor, "C'mon."
Without another word, both teens exited the kitchen and into the backyard. Neither spoke anything. They just sought a little privacy, and then faced one another. Kim's eyes said to Ron everything that needed to be said, and slowly she covered the short distance between them. Her head was soon buried in his shoulder, as well as his arms around her.
Agni couldn't believe what she was hearing.
"Fucking forget Middletown High!" she exclaimed, "I wanna go to that Ninja school with you!"
Shego groaned in frustration. And here she thought, she feared with all of her heart that her daughter would hate her for leaving her again, just for the only thing for Agni to care to be the ninja school! She had even kneeled before her daughter to talk this topic and now she felt stupid for it!
"I told you: No! No fucking way!"
"But why not!?"
Shego slapped her own face, shaking it in dismay. She then eyed Joss, who was sitting right beside Agni.
"You, the cowgirl!" she called, "Can't you talk some sense into your friend!?"
"Actually…" she began, repeatedly eyeing both mother and daughter, "Uhm… can't we both go?"
"Well said, Montana!" Agni spoke, raising her hand to high-five her friend, which the brunette eagerly agreed to.
"And here I thought Kimmie's cousin would be your voice of reason." Shego spoke, head dropping in dismay. With friends like this, Shego could only feel sorry for whatever intentions Kim might be holding for the sake of these girls' wellbeing.
"So we're going!?" Agni asked with a big, wide grin.
"For fuck's sake, Agni!" her mother cursed, "Even if I could somehow get you girls in that school, the moment you set foot onto their grounds you're already considered a member a viable agent to their mercenary business!"
"So, we do like Kim, but we get paid." the green girl summed up, "I don't see any problem there!"
"Ah 'ven got scars to show off!" her friend added.
"We're talking about murders and assassinations here!"
"…oh" went Joss.
"Alright, fine!" Agni finally replied, "Still, it'd be so much cool-"
"Thanks for your understanding!" Shego interrupted, not wanting to hear any more of it. "I'll send you souvenirs."
"How long will you be gone, though?" her daughter asked then.
Shego gulped, "I'm… not really sure."
Agni's expression seemed to drop. Joss bit her lips at the sight.
"Will you… will we stay in contact?"
Shego slowly opened her mouth to reply, but:
All heads turned to see Wade standing beside them. The short Afro-American boy approached them with Monique walking after him.
"I've been meaning to talk with you about this for a while now," he said to Shego once he was right in front of her, "I was never sure of how to bring it up, though, but seeing the circumstances, I know it's now or never."
"First things first," the green woman began.
"What am I talking about?" he finished for her.
"Wrong," she replied with mean frown, "Were you spying on us?"
"That would be me," Monique spoke, raising her hand with a sheepish smile on her face, "Guilty as charged."
"You're…" Shego began.
"Goldilocks' hussy's lesbian affair, chocolate edition." Agni finished.
Joss chuckled, "Ah' can't tell wheneve' you're bein' creative or tryin' too hard."
"I just heard you were leaving," the Afro-American teenager clarified, "and… I wanted to make a difference for you and Agni."
Shego frowned, "…why?"
Monique shrugged, "Why not?"
She sighing and shed her head.
"Okay, so what's this difference you're talking about?"
As a reply, Wade reached out for his pocket and brought a device Shego was familiar with, but that never expected to have offered to her.
"This…" she said as she took hold of the Kimmunicator.
"With this, you and Agni can stay in contact 24/7, no matter what corners of the world either of you are." the boy told her.
"And you can track me down whenever you want." she countered.
"I won't." he replied, his expression deadly serious, "I promise you, I won't get involved in your life. Unless you use the S.O.S. function of it, I won't even check the information brought back by the device."
At that moment, Shego's new toy suddenly began ringing a tune she knew she would be changing as soon as she could get a chance to. There was a call, curiously enough. She hit the replay button, only to be met with a slip screen showing the faces of Agni and Joss.
"What the-?"she spoke, turning around to see the girls in the couch with their respective Kimmunicators at hand.
"Seems pretty cool if ya ask me!" Agni spoke through the device.
"Not a bad offer." Joss added.
"Sigh, fine!" the mother ultimately conceded to, ending the three-way call, "Just don't abuse it. I can't promise I'll be answering every time you wanna tell me Kim didn't make you chocolate m-OUCH!"
Giving her a mix of amusement, anger and even pride, the comment had earned her a not really menacing, but still hurtful kick from her daughter. Her mother simply rubbed her sore side with a huff.
"Heh, you've been taught well…"
"I've taught myself." she replied with a prideful smirk.
Agni's new Kimmunicator then beeped in her hand. The pre-teen checked what it was, only to find a text message that certainly caught her attention. The people around her saw her open her eyes in amazement, frown, think something through, and finally released a sigh that seemed to indicate a taken decision.
"I'll be right back." she said, standing up from the couch and walking away.
She only made it to the corner of the couch, though, before something got in her way and began crawling up her legs.
"Aunty Amy!" Hana called, reaching out for her babysitter.
Shego snorted, "Amy?"
"Shut up, 'Tiny!" her daughter replied.
"She wants ya to pick her up." Joss told her, finding it amusing how the baby kept asking for that with her body language just for Agni to end up paralyzed at the sight of the toddler.
"She likes ya, duh!"
The green tween groaned, but nevertheless bent over and picked Hana up in her arms.
"Alright, let's go, you lil' devil…" she spoke as she placed the toddler against her chest and kept walking.
"Hey, Agni!" Ron commented as they crossed paths, "You taking my sister with you?"
"Unfortunately!" she replied without stopping. She entered the kitchen as the blond youth left it and soon was out of everyone's sight.
Ron simply shrugged, knowing Hana couldn't be in safer hands, and went to reunite with the group.
"Hey there," he greeted.
"What was that all about?" Shego questioned.
He blinked, "What are you talking about?"
"My daughter." she replied. "She's with Kimmie, isn't she?"
"Yeah," he replied with a shrug, "they need to talk."
She narrowed her eyes, "Alone?"
He nodded, "Alone."
She kept staring at him for a moment, not certain whenever she was comfortable with this development or not.
"Didn't you have your own private conversations with both of them?"
Shego tensed for a moment, but… she had to face that the buffoon had a point, as much as she hated to admit it.
"What does my cuz want with her?" Joss inquired. A part of Shego wanted to thank the brunette for asking what she felt she wouldn't be allowed the right to ask.
"Well, Kim… she's gotta do right by Agni."
Shego blinked, "Do right?"
But Monique just chuckled, "That's my girl…"
Nodding, Ron went on: "Yeah, do right. Actually… how about I tell you a story?"
Once upon a time, there was a little girl. A normal girl, you could say, but like every normal boy or girl in the world, there was something special about her. Something that defined her, something that made her unique, like everybody is unique in their own way, even if not everyone can show it.
But this little girl? Oh, she was going to show it. Yes, indeed. No sooner she learned about her talents and how could these be exploited, she wasted no time in sharing them with everyone she could. What was the point of her skills, after all, if she couldn't share them with the world? - She would ask. So the little girl went around the world sharing her uniqueness with whoever might welcome it, and she actually made plenty of people happy with it! Well, not everyone. Some people did tend to reject her, but that didn't stop the little girl from doing what she was best at.
Alas, among those who weren't pleased with the little girl's talents were included her own parents, nonetheless. They feared that their daughter would go too far, that like Icarus, she'd fly too high and burn her own wings. And of course, they feared she wouldn't survive the fall. They had so much fear that they knew they couldn't just let their little girl fly so freely. She needed some measures, they agreed. It was okay to exploit her talents, but only to a certain extent, they tried to make her understand. But the little girl wouldn't agree, for she had seen what good her skills could do, and she refused to be any less than what she could be. Finding themselves cornered against their own panic, they tried to tie down their daughter's wings, forbid her to fly…
Yet all they managed was for their child to run away. The very wings they tried to restrain set her free from even them…
And true to herself, that girl, slowly growing into a woman, kept on flying and being the very best of herself.
For the world…
…for her friends…
…and for everyone.
But even she knew that, deep down, she could not forsake her parents, or at least, she could not abandon her hope for their love. But was there still time? Or did she ruin everything when she ran away from them? She just knew… facing them now could hurt her more than ever. Did she dare? Was she brave enough? She sure as hell was brave enough to go around the world showing her true self to everyone, but could she face those that were closest to her?
As days passed by, even though she kept on flying, her pain grew bigger and bigger… she knew she had to do something about it…
"What are you doing here, sitting all by yourself?"
"Waiting for you, of course. But… why did you bring Hana?"
"She wanted to tag along. You don't mind, right?"
"Of course not. Here… take a seat."
"Alright… so, what did you wanna talk about?"
"You talked with your mother, right?"
"Yeah… she told me, so?"
"So… from here on, it's gonna be mostly just us… us and the future."
"What? You're planning a change of arrangements now that we're almost done moving?"
"No, not that. I just… I just want to make the best of our future days living together."
"I suppose you're gonna ask me to compromise to something?"
"Not at all."
"Figures you'd-… wait, what?"
"There's nothing for you to compromise. I… I'm the one who has to…"
"Wha-? But… how?"
"I suppose I gotta start from the begging… by apologizing to you."
"I lied to you."
"From day one, nonetheless… I promised you something, and ever since, I've been doing everything in my power to avoid it."
"Because I was scared."
"Scared, y-you? …scared of WHAT?"
"That someday… everything I'd teach you would be used against me."
"You're a lot like your mother… and… every time I looked at you… I feared I might be raising someone that someday I'd have to fight."
"…I guess that's understandable."
"Don't say that."
"Don't say that! It's not true!"
"But you just said-"
"I was wrong! I… I was an idiot, a coward haunted by her own fears and childish traumas, I… I refused to look at you for yourself, to realize that you're not your mother but your own person… and to recognize you as such."
"An idiot, I know. So… I… I'm sorry."
"I'll understand if you're angry… I probably deserve at least that, but… I want you to know I'm truly sorry, and… wait, what are you giggling for?"
"Pffft… can't help it."
"What's so funny?"
"First… I wasn't even gonna call you an idiot. You did that yourself…"
"It's just… well, seems like I'm not the only one around with self-deprecation issues, uh?"
"Heh… I guess you're right."
"I just… I never thought that you… of all people, you could be so…"
"So… so human!"
"I mean… I don't think I ever knew this side of you, these fears and insecurities… and you just mentioned a childhood trauma, I can't believe you have a childhood trauma! This is priceless!"
"Heh… I guess, it is kinda funny if you put it like that, but… it's the true."
"I'm human. I can do anything, but… I'm just human… and 'anything' does include making mistakes."
"Wait, you're not suggesting my powers make me any less human, are you?"
"Don't be silly… I don't know anyone – who's as human – as you are."
"Well… wait, is that supposed to be flattery or what?"
"Hehe… take it however you want."
"Mh, whatever, I guess…"
"You don't need to apologize. I understand… you just did what you thought was the right thing to do. It's what you always do, right?"
"Yes… but I was wrong this time."
"Pff… let it go, alright? What's the point of punishing yourself for it? I already accepted your apology."
"It's not that I wanna punish myself… it's that I wanna make amends."
"Amends to you."
The little girl knew: She had to face the people she cared about.
Before Agni could say or do anything about it, Kim got off the bench they were sitting on and kneeled before her. One knee on the ground and the other before her.
She had to do right.
"I will train you." Kim declared.
"I'll train you… like I promised I would."
The little girl went to her loved ones, and with eyes that showed a maturity beyond her eyes, she stared straight at their faces and spoke with her heart.
"You… you mean it?"
"I swear to you: I will teach you everything I know…"
She stared at the redhead in disbelief for a moment, but she knew from the seriousness in Kim's eyes that she meant every word she was saying and that she may even be taking it far more seriously than Agni herself ever did.
This is me, the little girl told her family. This is who I am, she spoke with determination. And this is who I'll always be…
"When I arrived at the warehouse…" Kim began explaining, recalling the events from two days ago, "I saw you like… never before."
Agni just stared in confusion waiting for the redhead to explain.
"When you saved Hana, and then shielded her and Joss, when I heard what you said… I… I knew what was going through your mind, and I… I've never felt so humbled."
'Humbled?' echoed in Agni's mind as her eyes opened widely.
"Never before, in my entire life, had I felt… as proud of someone else, as I did with you."
Agni had to make a conscious effort to keep on breathing. Her mind couldn't believe the words that her guardian was speaking, yet her heart was confident that every word was as true as it could get.
"Not even from Ron, or my family… only from you, Agni."
The parents understood then… what a blessing they had. What treasure they had been given, and how foolish they had been for attempting to keep it from shining. They understood there were risks to be taken, but that this was the only way they could ever, truly keep their loved one in their lives.
Parents and children embraced each others passionately, and a silent vow was made that day: To always accept and support each one's best.
"That's why… everything I know, everything I ever learned, now I finally know who I must pass it on to… and who I want to share it with…" Kim went on, "Never thought… it'd be the daughter of my most feverish rival, but… who cares about that now! It's you, Agni. It can't be anyone else."
She looked straight into the younger girl's eyes, and Agni realized she was expected to reply now but… what was she even supposed to say now!?
"C-cool!" she blurted out, "I-I mean, AWESOME! You… you finally come to your senses."
Kim chuckled and nodded, "Guess I needed you to slap some sense into me."
"Well, duh! You'd be lost without me!" the tween replied with a nervous laugh, but then suddenly fell serious, "Wait."
"You… you'll train Joss too, right?"
She actually saw doubt in Kim's expression for a moment, but the redhead ultimately nodded.
"Of course," she said, "I'm sure you two will make great sparring partners."
"Great!" the girl celebrated, "Fucking awesome… I… I dunno what else to say."
"Hehe, it's okay."
"Uhm… you didn't tell Joss this yet, right?" she asked, even though she knew Kim obviously hadn't.
"Nope, not yet." the redhead answered simply, "Wanna go break the news?"
"Hell yeah!" Agni declared with a big smile.
"Alright," Kim replied, finally standing up and then remembering the company they had, "Hey, is Hana…?"
Only then Agni remembered she happened to have a toddler on her lap. She has been so dumbfounded by what Kim had to tell her that she had completely forgotten it wasn't just the two of them there, even though she had been holding the baby girl the whole time. Looking down at her, though, she guessed they might as well have been all alone and it wouldn't have made any difference, since…
"Out like a light." she spoke.
Kim giggled, "she must really like you."
Agni just rolled her eyes, "What could I have ever done to deserve such punishment?"
Regardless, the young girl carefully readjusted Hana against her chest before standing up. The baby ended up with her head resting against Agni's shoulder, but still as asleep as before.
"There you go, you lil' devil…" she murmured, patting the toddler's back.
The words barely registered in Kim's head, though. The sight before her… she didn't know what it was, but… she wasn't even thinking when she spoke next.
"You'd be such a great mother…"
"What?" The girl asked, having honestly not caught what Kim whispered, "Did you say something 'bout my mom?"
Suddenly brought back to reality and realizing what she had just said, Kim simply shook her head violently, wondering whatever the hell was going on with her.
"Nothing, though… I wonder what she might think of this."
"Forget her," Agni replied, turning to the direction of the Stoppable house, "I wanna see Montana's reaction already, let's go!"
She started walking towards the house, quickly but careful not to wake up Hana. Kim soon began following behind her, but almost as soon as she did, the girl suddenly stopped and turned around.
She took the deepest breath she ever did.
Author Notes: Well, this is the end of this long, long journey. Hope you people enjoyed it. Hopefully, there'll be more adventures with these characters soon enough. ^^