Title: An Unacceptable Sitch 4
Spoilers: None that I can think of.
Feedback: As this is my first story in a fandom I've only begun following in the last month, I hope everyone will give me their opinions.
Disclaimers: Kim Possible, Ron Stoppable, Shego, Wade, and all other characters from the Kim Possible television series belong to Disney, its television production arm, and the creators and producers of the animated series. I seek no profit from writing this, and expect none.
Shego looked about her in dismay. "Couldn't you have given us, I don't know, rooms in different _wings_?"
"I am sorry, Shego," Senior replied gravely, although Kim suspected from the look in his eye that he was highly entertained by the two women coexisting in close quarters. "But long ago I converted much of my home from a retiree's mansion to a base of operations for a would-be conqueror. You will have to suffer through adjoining rooms for now."
Kim had quietly but insistently requested that they be placed in neighboring rooms while they remained there. Part of her was amazed at her own effrontery in demanding specific accommodations from a host, especially one who had been an enemy many times in another life. But Señor Senior Senior continued to be amused and intrigued by her, and he had granted the request.
Besides, the definition of "enemy" was in flux these days.
"I have left you a gift, Shego," Senior added before he left. "It is in your closet. You left it here the last time. For some reason I never discarded it."
Shego stopped and looked at him. "You mean . . ."
"You will have to make do without the gloves, I'm afraid," he warned her. "The technology could have shorted out and started a fire." He nodded to Kim. "Let us retire and dream of vengeance. You'll find it is a heady brew, Kim Possible."
Kim saw that Shego didn't even bother to say good night as she rushed into the next set of rooms, connected to Kim's by a door which could be locked on either side.
When Kim followed her inside, Shego looked almost delirious as she held the green-and-black outfit to her body. It was still on the hangar. "I haven't worn this in years," she said. "All the villains have their boring outfits, all symmetry and monochrome. I dress in style! My clothes let people know that I am chaos. I am anarchy." She glanced at Kim. "Do you mind?"
"I am ego with a capital S-H," Kim thought, shrugging as she turned around.
There was only the rustle of fabric for a minute as Kim waited for Shego to tell her she could turn around. There was no reply, however, and Kim sighed, knowing that Shego was just jerking her chain.
She heard something then. It sounded almost alien.
Kim turned around and saw that Shego was crying silently.
"Shego?" she asked, shocked.
Her outfit used to be form fitting, but Shego had lost enough weight over the past few years that it hung limply in various places. She looked like a girl in her mother's dress. "I'm pathetic," Shego said, almost to herself rather than Kim. "I'm stupid and I'm weak and I'm such an embarrassment to what I used to be . . . if I had known this would be this way, I never would have escaped."
"Shego . . ." Kim began uncertainly.
"Shove it! Just shove it, Possible," Shego spat at her. "You're still Miss Perfect and I'm not even me anymore. I'm this big nothing - no wonder you helped me. You must love this," she said hatefully.
"Yeah, really," Kim shot back sarcastically. "I'm cut off from my family and my friends. I'm going to have to forget about finishing any of my classes this semester. And I'm alone with two people who've tried to kill me in the past. But it's all worth it just to see you blubbering." Kim glared at her. "Are you sure you're not Shego? Because you're still a total bitch."
Shego screamed and leapt toward her. Kim, however, calmly stepped aside and allowed Shego to lurch past her, almost hitting the wall.
Leaning against the wall with both hands, Shego looked back at her with loathing. "If I had my claws - "
"You couldn't beat me with your claws when you were in shape," Kim reminded her. "If you had your gloves, you'd just hurt yourself with them. That could change, but you're being such a pain in the rear that I don't think I'm up for it any more."
"Change? Up for what?" Shego asked suspiciously.
"We're obviously not going anywhere for a while," Kim told her. "And if you're going to help me stop the Acceptables, you need to work yourself back into shape. I figure a month should do."
Shego's expression could curdle milk. "You keep saying I'm going to help you," she muttered.
"Uh, hello!" Kim said. "Exactly what did you expect to happen now?"
"You're supposed to be helping me," Shego said petulantly.
Kim slapped her hand over her eyes. "Which is more hateful to you? The Acceptables hunting you down and killing you, or being my partner?"
Shego appeared to be thinking about it.
"Damn you, Shego," Kim said. "We have to help each other. Ron can't be here. Even if Wade has it figured out where we are, there's no way Ron, or my parents, or anybody close to me can get here. The Acceptables are going to be watching their every move, and if one of them disappears, either they'll track that person down and find us, or they'll do something to the others. I don't even have a Kimmunicator now."
"Don't even think about asking me to be your Ron," Shego hissed. "I've been mistaken for him once already."
"This isn't about sidekicks," Kim replied, although Shego hadn't minded being known as Drakken's sidekick once. "I said 'partners'. Come on, Shego," she added, throwing in a dash of flattery. "After all the times we fought to a draw in the old days? You think I see you as a decoy?"
In the old days? Had Kim said that? She sounded like her father!
"I don't just remember draws," Shego said haughtily as she pulled herself stiffly, her pride slowly resurrecting itself.
Neither did Kim, but now wasn't the time to remind Shego of all the times she'd lost.
"But," Shego continued helplessly, "I've turned into such a weakling."
"Then our first order of business is getting that outfit to fit again," Kim replied, allowing herself to feel sympathy for the distressed former villain. "We need to put you on a weight-gain regimen, followed by steady exercise to rebuild your muscles, and lastly sparring to shake the rust off those fighting skills of yours. And mine," she added ruefully. Sports and self-defense classes were one thing, but the adrenaline of fighting for your life was quite another, and Kim knew she wasn't at the level she'd been as a teenager.
She was in her prime, however, and Kim hoped that she could be even stronger at her peak now than she'd been five years ago.
Shego's shoulders dropped slightly. "All right," she said. Then she looked in the mirror. "I used to look so good in this," she sighed.
"You did," Kim agreed.
"Excuse me?" Shego asked.
"Well, Ron certainly seemed to think so," Kim replied quickly.
"Hmph. That sounded almost like a compliment," Shego said.
"All I'm hoping for is being able to trust each other a little," Kim told her.
"Fat chance," Shego muttered.
She was probably right, Kim thought.
"So what have we learned?" Kim asked a couple days later, mimicking something Shego had said to Drakken once or twice.
Shego looked at her sullenly and casually drank more of her protein shake through a straw. "That the Acceptables fight as a team," she finally muttered.
"And if we're going to beat them, you and I will also have to work together as a . . ."
"Team," Shego mumbled.
Kim nodded, satisfied for now. "Don is the strongest, but he's also the slowest. John is definitely the quickest, but it looks like Yvonne is stronger than him too. They complement each other's skills perfectly."
They'd reviewed digital footage of the Acceptable Family that had Senior had gathered over the years for his attempts to rescue Junior. They'd reviewed for two days, in fact, leaving Kim wondering how football players did it in college.
Kim hadn't seen enough of their fighting skills, since they had a tendency of arriving, cleaning up, and leaving before she even got to the action. What she saw worried her. They'd be outnumbered three to two, even if Shego returned to top form. And she doubted they would allow Ron to be much of a distraction.
"I wonder why John used a gun that day," Kim thought out loud.
"From what I've seen, Don is the one who likes to use lasers and other fired weapons. Even Yvonne uses a staff or a knife, but John only seems to fight with his bare hands. So why was he the one to shoot at you that day in the college?"
Shego looked down. "John likes to see people in pain," she said quietly. "And he likes to see people die. I think he wanted to see my brains splattered all over the hallway."
Kim said nothing at first. Since mentioning that she'd been "interrogated" monthly, Shego had not brought this up again. Kim realized it was quite likely that John had been the one who tortured her - perhaps as many as fifty times or more over a four-year period. While Kim wasn't sure _how_ she felt about Shego any more, she did know that nobody deserved that kind of treatment.
She also realized that Shego knew things that no tapes could tell them. "Shego," she began carefully, "you saw a lot from your cell, didn't you?"
"Some," Shego replied.
"What can you tell me about this family that the footage can't?" Kim asked gingerly.
Shego didn't respond. Instead she sucked the last of her shake dry, stood up, and walked out.
"Uh boy," Kim muttered as she followed her.
Before she could ask again, Shego whirled on her. "They beat me," she said icily. "I was burned and cut and three of my fingers were broken. They didn't heal one hundred percent, as you may have noticed." She shoved her left hand in Kim's face.
Kim had not in fact noticed, but now she saw that three of Shego's knuckles looked swollen. It interfered with her ability to make a fist.
"Why did they beat you?" Kim asked. She hadn't meant for Shego to feel that this needed to be aired, but evidently it was the window Shego was providing her.
"Because they couldn't beat their parents," Shego told her.
Kim waited a moment before taking Shego by her left hand and leading her outside. For whatever reason, Shego didn't put up a fight. She went to the pool in the center courtyard, where the sun shone down on them. Kim knew that Shego, for a woman who looked like she'd never have a tan her entire life, preferred being out in the sunlight. She found a seat and invited Shego to sit across from her.
Shego did so, looking at Kim uncertainly.
"I need to know their weaknesses, Shego," Kim said. "Believe me, I don't want to hear about how they hurt you, any more than you want to tell me. But from what little I've heard you say, the Acceptables are somewhat, let's say, dysfunctional?"
Shego laughed mirthlessly. "Yeah, you could say that," she replied.
"Well, without going into details about what they made you go through," Kim said gently, "what can you tell me about them as people? Where are the chinks in their suits of armor? Who are the Acceptables? If they're not heroes, then what?"
Shego lay back and adjusted the beach chair she was sitting on so that she was now lying horizontally. She turned her head to the side so that she was looking into neither the sun nor Kim's eyes. Kim understood that she was remembering bad times, and she waited patiently for her to be ready.
"Mrs. Acceptable is the most dangerous," Shego told her neutrally.
"Not the father?"
"Oh, he's dangerous. He's dangerous because he's prone to going completely nuts," Shego said. "But his wife is completely ruthless. The kids are afraid of their father, because he can dream up ingeniously vicious punishments when they make minor mistakes. But they hate their mother because she's so good at pushing Mr. Acceptable's buttons. Those days when the father is relatively normal and inclined to let something go, Mrs. Acceptable will drive him into a state of absolute rage, and then she unleashes him on the children. He's the rabid dog, and she's the one with the leash."
"Why does she do such things?" Kim asked. The way she sat asking questions while Shego was lying down suddenly made her feel like a psychiatrist. As long as this was therapeutic, she thought.
"She's ambitious for the kids, but more for herself," Shego told her. "I don't think she could accept not being head of the family. Some day they're going to be too old, and the kids will push them aside, so she tries to delay the inevitable. Sometimes, from the things John says while he's . . ."
"You don't have to go on," Kim said, although really she did.
"I don't think the 'rents will be golfing in Florida some day," Shego did in fact continue. "I think when the second generation is old enough, they're going to eliminate their parents from the Family, whether the parents want to go or not."
Kim shook her head. Suddenly she missed her parents and her brothers, in all their normalcy and their love for each other, that much more.
"It's probably a good thing you retired, Kimmie," Shego added, looking at her finally.
"Why?" Kim asked curiously.
"Because those kids don't take kindly to competition. They even view each other as competition for future control of the Acceptable Family. If the parents couldn't hold them in check, they'd probably stab each other in the back. A stranger like you would have received no mercy. If you hadn't gotten out when you did, John or one of the others would have persuaded you otherwise," Shego answered.
Kim suspected "persuade" had a different meaning in the Acceptable household, like "interrogate". She ignored the goosebumps that crept up along her arm. "Anything else?" she forced herself to ask.
"Yeah, their vanity," Shego said after a moment. "It's very important to them that the world go on thinking like you did, that they're the good guys. They want the rest of the world to rely on them, so the family can royally screw them some day. They won't do anything that might jeopardize their image, unless they feel they have no choice." She stopped. "I'm hungry," she added.
"You've been eating like a pig," Kim said, unable to resist.
"You're the one who put me on this diet!" Shego retorted. She had fleshed out slightly, though.
"I think tomorrow we can start working on converting that flab to muscle," Kim replied coolly.
Shego glared murderously and stalked off.
Kim heard the tiniest sound and looked up. High above them, Señor Senior Senior sat on his balcony and laughed quietly. "You are a cruel master, Kim Possible," he called down to her. "Perhaps I should have asked you to teach my son all those years ago instead of her? What did he call you again? His blue fox?"
She flushed and ran after Shego.
"No sign of them," Mr. Acceptable said calmly as he sat at the head of the table.
His three oldest children looked at him nervously. Their father's calm moments were his most deceptive ones.
"A prisoner who never should have escaped, and a girl who has not thrown a punch in five years," the father continued, while his wife sat primly at the other end of the table, holding a small infant in her arms. "And they elude all three of you."
"They've eluded you and Mother too," Yvonne shot back.
Mr. Acceptable idly pushed a button on his chair. Yvonne felt a familiar, if still painful, jolt run through her chair and into her body for a second. She jerked in her seat and squirmed when it was over. Don and John looked down to hide their smiles.
It wasn't enough. "What are the two of you smiling about?" Mrs. Acceptable asked mildly.
"Were they smiling, dear?" her husband asked.
She smiled the peaceful smile of a holy man, and John's eyes flashed hatefully at her. "I'm not sure they understand the gravity of this matter."
The father pushed a couple more buttons, and this time it was John who leapt in his seat, while Don hunkered down and shook defiantly.
"They can't stay in hiding forever," Yvonne pointed out. "And we have Possible's family under constant surveillance, as well as Ron Stoppable, his family, and their little computer buddy."
"If they don't make contact," Don added darkly, "we can step up the surveillance a little."
"Surveillance is a lot easier when you have someone behind bars," John said, grinning again.
"Is there anyone we've overlooked?" Mr. Acceptable asked.
"Not that we know of," Don replied. "She had other friends in high school, but she doesn't appear to have had more than monthly contact with any of them since graduation. We gave a few of them a cursory glance, and none of them appear to be acting out of the ordinary."
"She must have had resources for such an emergency as this," the father reasoned. "Surely that amateur Stoppable would know, if anyone did."
"With those big flapping lips of his," Yvonne sneered, "he can't keep a secret for long."
"He'd better hope so," Mrs. Acceptable said. "Because if nothing happens in the next few weeks, we'll see if we can't get Shego's old cell ready for him."
"Anything else?" Mr. Acceptable asked.
The younger Acceptables were prepared to say "no", relieved that nothing worse than a single shock had come, but Don grunted. "Another police report out of Middleton about this Onyx character."
Mr. Acceptable waved a hand. "A ninja keeping the streets of Middleton safe at night? It sounds childish."
"Could it be Possible in disguise?" their mother asked.
"Doubtful," Yvonne said. "The Onyx first surfaced a month or two before Shego escaped. If it was Kim Possible, why hide her identity?"
"Why indeed?" Mr. Acceptable asked. "She - or he if it's a man with a girlish figure like yours, John - "
John seethed but didn't reply.
"Has some modicum of flair," his father continued. "If they're leaving their name for the press to report on. It's not my concern, however, if they're content to handle the rubbish in Middleton."
"I think we should keep an eye on the Onyx just in case," Mrs. Acceptable suggested. "He or she might become ambitious."
"Ambition is something to be admired in oneself, and destroyed in others," Mr. Acceptable agreed. "Do it. Meeting adjourned. And John?"
"Yes, Father?" John asked just before he could rise, looking worried suddenly.
"You didn't disagree earlier when I suggested you had a girlish figure. Do you think this is true?"
"No! Well, I mean . . ."
"John, you're not a homosexual, are you?"
"What?!" he cried out.
Mr. Acceptable shook his head. "I think you have some issues to work out, John," he said before zapping him again.
To be continued . . .