Title: If You Build a Better Monkey (4)
Spoilers: Takes place after "But for the Grace of Ron".
Feedback: Some of you have been extremely helpful, and I hope you'll continue to do so. New reader opinions are encouraged too!
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. All original characters are my invention. I seek no profit from writing this, and expect none.
"Look at them all," Kim said. "There must be thirty of them." She pulled out her Kimmunicator. "Wade, I want you to send a general email to every zoo in America. Ask them if they've had any animals stolen in the past year. If any of the descriptions of the missing animals match the ones we found here, send them a photo and see about identifying them."
"Ask if there are any rewards," Shego murmured.
Kim looked at Shego, but she didn't seem concerned. Kim sighed. "And find out if there any rewards we can claim," she said.
"Will do, Kim," Wade told her.
"I keep forgetting we're in it for the money now," Kim said.
"Maybe you won't make it sound so sordid if you start remembering," Shego said.
"Snake lady's waking up, KP," Ron said from across the warehouse.
Kim nodded as she and Shego went over to where the costume-clad woman was tied to a chair. The thief rolled her head and blinked her eyes, confused. "What - where am I?"
"Irma Newcastle, you're going to wait here until the police come for your arrest," Kim told her. "You've been stealing animals from zoos and smuggling them out of the country."
"Maybe they can get you some mental help," Shego taunted her. "Then you'll stop thinking you're a character from a TV show."
"I'm not crazy," the Snake Charmer retorted.
"Just for your information, the 'Fearless Ferret'?" Shego replied, crooking her fingers like quotation marks. "Not real."
"I know that, you bitch!"
Shego and Kim looked at her. "What do you mean, you KNOW?" Kim asked. "What about the snake and the hissing and all that?"
"Your friend said he was the Fearless Ferret, and I don't see you accusing HIM of being crazy!"
"She's not hissing her esses any more," Shego said.
The Snake Charmer looked sulky. "It gets tiresome after a while."
"You finally figure that out?"
"Shego," Kim said. "All right, Irma, what the hell are you up to?"
Irma exhaled loudly. "My mom left a lot of debts behind when she died, and I don't make much. Then I heard about Mr. North and the incident at the Ferret convention. I figured, why not? My mother made me watch her episodes on the Fearless Ferret over and OVER, after all," she grumbled. "I knew the shtick by heart."
"So you started poaching animals from zoos to pay off loans?"
"Well, the loans are paid now, actually. I was going to use the proceeds from selling the tiger so I could buy a REAL leather suit, not this cheap imitation. You'd think Mom would have saved her costume, but nooooo," Irma sighed.
"So you've sold some of the animals you stole already?" Kim asked.
Irma laughed. “Like I’d incriminate myself any further.”
“Kinda defeats the purpose of the imitation get-up, doesn’t it?” Ron asked as he came over.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” the thief demanded.
“Well, anyone who does the things you do obviously wants to make a name for herself,” he explained. “The more thefts you add to your resume, the more likely it is that the newspapers will pay attention. That’s what the real Snake Charmer did in episode #6, ‘The Serpent - “
“In the Garden,” she finished for him. “You do know the show.”
“I saw a marathon of your mother’s episodes,” Ron admitted.
“Really? So did I. About once a month,” she muttered.
“Then you should be able to sell it better,” he said. “You’ll get out in a couple years, buy yourself a real outfit, get photographed, pull a few big scores - next thing you know, you’ll be bigger than Shego was!”
“Excuse me!” Shego snarled.
“Yes, yes, you’re right,” Irma realized, her eyes narrowing with avarice. “The media won’t care if I robbed a couple zoos. But they will care if I have spent the past year visiting the . . . ‘havens of zoological treasures’ with my - “
“Reign of slithering terror?” Ron suggested.
“Exactly!” she agreed. “Episode 37, ‘Death Rattle’!”
“But make sure that when the police arrive, you nail the hissing,” Ron said. “You’ve got to make them believe! Come on, try something out on us.”
Irma paused. “You should be grateful,” she sneered. “If it wasssn’t for that interfering do-gooder Kim Posssible, my reign of ssslithering terror over America’s havensss of zoological treasuresss would yet continue!”
“Boo-yah!” Ron told her, and she preened, even tied to a chair.
“What the fuck does he think he’s doing?” Shego growled as Kim kept a restraining hand on her arm.
“Stroking her ego. It’s a sidekick thing. Although you never seemed to grasp that.”
Shego rolled her eyes. “I had my pride. Which, I’m told, is NOT a sidekick thing.”
“It helps him be impervious to embarrassment.”
“Hey, Kim, could you guys come over here? The Snake Charmer here wants to practice for the police. Go ahead, interrogate her.”
Shego unfurled her claws, but Kim stopped her again. “I think he means like police interrogation, not KGB interrogation.” Then she faced the deluded thief. “All right, Snake Charmer, if you think you’re so hot, how many times have you stolen animals from zoos so you could sell them on the black market?”
“Countlesss timesss,” the Snake Charmer hissed arrogantly. “Thossse animalsss you sssee are jussst a fraction of my work.”
“Yeah, well the local zoo says they lost a couple gorillas last year. Know anything about that?” Kim even played along to the extent that she spoke the way she’d seen real police officers speak.
“Of courssse,” she said slyly. “I sssold them for a nice profit too.”
“Maybe you’re making it up.”
“How dare you!”
“To who, then?”
“I . . . did not get hisss name. He wasss from Africa, though.”
“Sure,” Kim said. “Africans don’t have enough gorillas back home that they need to steal them from here.”
“I did not sssay he wasss an African!” the Snake Charmer retorted. “I sssaid he wasss FROM Africa. Hisss plane flew in from there. I loaded the gorillas onto hisss plane, he paid me, and he flew away.”
“Then how do you know he wasn’t an African?”
“He ssspoke with an English accent. And I shook handsss with him. He wasss a white man.” Her lip crinkled. “I did not like shaking hisss hand. It wasss quite hairy.”
Kim froze. She looked at Shego, who appeared equally intrigued. “Did he shake your hand normally?” Kim asked calmly. “The way a normal person would?”
“No, he did not. He told me he wasss left-handed. Although who could shake handsss like a normal perssson when you have hair on your handsss, hair ssso thick it wasss like fur.”
“A white man with an English accent and furry hands bought a gorilla from you?” Kim asked quietly.
“TWO gorillasss. And a ssspider monkey. I had a pair of nice flamingosss too, but he wasssn’t interesssted.”
Ron wasn’t dense. “Lord Monty?” he said to the others.
Shego grinned. “I knew we’d find him eventually.”
“You did great, Snake Charmer,” Ron said. “The media is going to love you. And they’ll love you even more when you get out.”
“In ten years,” Kim muttered. “What part of Africa, anyway?”
“The Congo, I believe. Yesss, it was the Congo. He sssaid he had heard of my prowesss, and he wanted me to procure the apesss for him. Within three daysss of the theft, he came with my money. I am a much-sssought after thief, you sssee.”
“Oh yeah,” Kim agreed, looking heavenward. Then she turned to Ron and Shego. “We’ll need to have Wade check the records at the Boston airport for any flights coming in from Africa around the time of the original zoo theft.”
“But why gorillas?” Ron asked.
“And why from here, if he’s in the Congo?” Kim added.
Shego shrugged. “Maybe he wanted them domesticated. Easier to train.”
“Shego, he uses monkeys for ninjas, not gorillas.”
“And maybe he figured out that ninjas have limited usefulness when they’re two feet tall,” she replied. “Grab it by the tail, swing it around, let go - one less ninja in two seconds flat.”
Kim didn’t like the sound of that. “Gorilla ninjas?”
Ron clutched his chest. “Monkeys? BIG monkeys? He must be the most evil person on the planet!”
Shego snickered. “Well, we know he isn’t the weirdest.”
"Monkey Fist could be gone tomorrow," Shego pointed out. "Especially if he learns that Kim Possible caught the woman who sold him those gorillas."
"I doubt that kind of news will reach all the way to central Africa," Kim replied. "Besides, that's thousands of acres of thick jungle over there. His hiding place could be anywhere, and we need a good idea where it is, instead of just beating the bushes for weeks." She shrugged. "We come home, we do a little research, we let Wade do his thing, then we find him. And we need to let Dr. Director know. Otherwise she'll sign us up for a new mission, and we won't be able to fulfill the contract because we're off on our own."
Shego grumbled. "He still owes me for letting those monkeys of his run amok in my apartment," she said. Then she brightened a little. "Of course, research is important too."
"Right," Kim said. Her tone of voice suggested she knew Shego was up to something.
"And we do have a brand-new headquarters of our very own to conduct research in."
"AND I happen to live there. There's this one room, I'm having my bed put in there, but somebody already cleaned the place up a little, and it does have a door that closes and locks," Shego said with a leer.
Kim sighed. "I don't think Dr. Director suggested you move in so you could turn it into our personal lovepad."
"Oh, Kimmie," Shego pouted. "Don't you want to spar for a little while first? Get the competitive juices flowing a little?"
"That's it!" Ron yelped. "I am in the backseat here, and I am not going to go on listening to the two of you plan your next romantic encounter. And I especially don't want to hear the word 'juices'!"
"Thank you, Ron," Sadie muttered as they pulled up in front of Team Possible headquarters.
Shego's mock pout became an outright sulk as she folded her arms and glared straight ahead. "I'm tired of being judged by our CAR," she said.
"Hello? Does my judging count for nothing?" Ron asked.
"Do you hear something, Kimmie?"
Ron growled at her as he got out of the car.
"Shego," Kim pleaded. "Could you provoke Ron another time?"
Shego shrugged. "Sorry."
Kim groaned. On some level Ron and Shego continued to rub each other the wrong way, even after the Supreme One incident, and every so often it bubbled over.
Although she doubted Shego's spicy talk had anything to do with Ron. For Shego, much of their relationship was all about the competitive aspects. The bedroom was just another version of the practice arena - a contest of wills as the two fought for dominance. Kim supposed some would find their pairing odd. It was like they were still trying to beat each other sometimes.
There WERE some more traditional aspects to their relationship, however. Like the stirrings of desire Kim felt as she watched Shego saunter away in her sexy, body-hugging outfit. The sight of those curves reminded Kim of a dozen passionate encounters the two had already experienced - although they hadn't actually made love yet. There was still a bit of hesitation, for both of them really. As if it was some kind of final leap that both women, uncharacteristically, were waiting for the other to take first.
That being said, Kim inhaled deeply as she watched Shego watch. "Oh, Shego?" she called out.
Shego turned around, her wavy black hair lifting slightly by the breeze. "Yeah, princess?"
Kim strode toward her with determination, as if she were seventeen again and Shego was still working for Dr. Drakken. She certainly never slipped one arm around Shego's waist when she was seventeen, however, and put her other hand on her shoulder, pulling her in for a kiss that ripped the air from Shego's lungs.
When she let go, Shego looked dazed, as if Kim had delivered a roundhouse instead of a kiss.
"Maybe later," Kim murmured, "if we're still waiting on word from Wade, the two of us could slip away and - get some exercise."
Shego swallowed. "Uh, yeah, she said hesitantly.
Kim grinned sultrily and kept walking, letting her hand slowly slide off Shego's hips. If Shego insisted on being competitive in all things, it was good to remind her that in all things, anything was possible for Kim Possible.
Her good mood began to turn sour as she entered what was to be Dr. Director's office, and found something unexpected. Not only was the office clean and modestly furnished, but Dr. Director was inside - with Monique. "Monique?" she asked.
"Hey, Kim," Monique said easily, but her body language was slightly tense.
"Well done, Kim," Dr. Director added. "The zoo just called to say how pleased they were that their precious tiger was returned by the police unharmed. I've also been fielding phone calls from other zoos across the country. It appears your friend Wade has been referring them to me concerning their lost animals being recovered as well."
"Just trying to get us into the black," Shego said as she came in. "You know how much I like black - and green."
"Their budgets don't allow much in the way of cash rewards, Shego," Dr. Director pointed out, "but I'm sure we'll have some money coming our way. More importantly, this does a lot for Team Possible's reputation and goodwill. Again, it was a raging success."
"Thanks," Kim said. "Uh, where's Ron?"
Ron ambled in with Rufus and Ruby even as she spoke. "Bathroom break," he said.
"Too much information," Kim replied, grimacing. "Couldn't you have used Sappho's facilities?"
"Uh, KP? Didn't feel like using the bathroom while I'm being watched by a female spaceship."
"Whatever," she sighed.
"Hey, Mo! What're you doing here?" Ron asked cheerfully.
"Kinda wondering that myself," Kim added.
"Yeah. Um, Dr. Director here kinda offered me a job, Kim."
Kim became still. "A job?"
"I was hoping I'd be able to explain," Dr. Director said. "There's a strong possibility that as this company grows, there will be an occasion where Team Possible will have to run two separate missions. Considering the three of you can't split up without leaving someone with their back unprotected, I thought it wise if the Oryx here could join as a fourth member - "
"Whoa, whoa," Kim said, interrupting. "You went and expanded the team without consulting us?"
"What's the matter, Kim?" Monique asked, assuming a more belligerent stance. "Am I no longer in your inner circle?"
"No," Kim said, annoyed. "Of course you are. But Shego, Ron, and I are more than able to handle routine missions on our own."
"Monique's position would not be a full-time one," Dr. Director said. "She would do contract work for us, according to Team Possible's needs. Obviously the three of you together are unbeatable, but sometimes the three of you CAN'T be together. I felt that the Oryx, considering she's been receiving fighting training from Shego, was a worthy - "
She stopped as Kim held up a hand, palm out, and glared at Shego. "Monique has been WHAT from WHO!"
"Uh-oh," Monique said, while Shego naturally looked unconcerned.
"She was raw but talented," Shego commented. "I could see that at the Acceptables' lair. I'm sure you could too. I told her so, and she came to me for teaching. I figured it would be easier than teaching Señor Senior Junior. I mean, at least Monique didn’t start out like a wounded tortoise.”
“At what point did the not telling ME come into play?” Kim asked dangerously.
“I did not realize you weren’t aware of this, Kim,” Dr. Director began to say.
“Save it,” Kim said icily. “I’m angry with you, too.”
“I’m angry with you,” Kim repeated, pointing a finger at Dr. Director, “for bringing Monique into this without consulting with me first. I’m angry with YOU,” she said, turning to Shego, “for training Monique behind my back. And I’m angry with YOU,” she added, jabbing her finger in Monique’s direction, “for not giving up this crazy Oryx idea!”
“Um, are you mad at me?” Ron asked timidly.
“Okay, your tone says yes, but your words say no, so I’m going to make like a decoy and run very fast.” He rushed out of the office, having seen the enraged look on Monique’s face as well. Shego, at least, didn’t look upset, but you never knew what emotions lurked behind those eyes.
When Ron had left, Kim focused on the other three women in the room. “All right, let’s have this out.”
“You know what?” Monique asked. “Let US have this out, and by US I mean you and me.”
Then she grabbed Kim by the arm and literally dragged her out of the room. A shocked Kim didn’t protest until after they’d reached the corridor. “What do you think you’re doing!”
“Saving our friendship, I hope,” Monique muttered, and Kim was stunned into silence.
Shego watched as Kim was now meekly led into another room and the door closed. “Wish I could drag her around like that,” she murmured. “Maybe I could use a few lessons from her, too.”
To be continued . . .