Author's Note: For those of you who haven't seen yet, Rinacat has now drawn several separate illustrations which are all based on events in the "Unacceptable Sitch" series, or inspired by them. They are all extremely good, especially the most recent ones, which include cover art for "An Unacceptable Sitch". Truly she is a goddess among mortals when it comes to Kim Possible fanart. You can find her work at rinacat AT deviantart DOT com. I encourage readers to visit.
Title: If You Build a Better Monkey (5)
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.
"Thanks a lot, by the way," Shego grumbled.
"For what?" Dr. Director asked.
"For telling Kimmie that I was training Oryx. Kinda didn't want that to get out."
"How was I supposed to know?" Dr. Director said, exasperated.
"You could have figured it out. You knew Kim was uncomfortable with her risking her neck and fighting drug dealers and muggers. So of course we were going to spar in secret."
"Actually," Dr. Director said dryly, "I didn't know that part either."
Shego paused. "Oh. Kimmie's only told ME twenty times."
"Kim is the one who told me where I could reach Oryx. Why would she have done that if she had a problem with Monique's nighttime activities?"
"Beats me," Shego said, shrugging. "Maybe she never thought Oryx - "
"You do realize that's not her real name, right?"
Shego sighed. "Maybe she never thought Monique would agree. She's always been hellbent on only going after the small-time thugs and pushers."
"Well, it stands to reason, after what happened to her parents."
"I suppose . . . wait, what ABOUT her parents?"
"So, is this where we 'have it out', Monique?" Kim asked when they were alone.
"Hey, if this is about you not wanting to change the team, that's okay. Or if this is you saying you don't think I'm qualified yet, I'm even okay with THAT," Monique said. "But if this is that same old line where you think you can judge me for being the Oryx - "
"There are some very dangerous people out there, Monique," Kim said. "We deal with the worst kind of megalomaniacs and would-be conquerors and - "
"Snake-themed thieves?" Monique interrupted, raising an eyebrow.
Kim folded her arms. "You could get killed very easily fighting these people."
"You want to know who's really dangerous, Kim? One man in a dark alley with a loaded gun. I don't know how many times you've had to dodge lead bullets, but it's not easy. And I've been handling those losers for months. I think I can handle monkey men and deranged golfers."
"You shouldn't be risking your life fighting 'those losers' in the first place!"
"Here we go again!" Monique exploded. "You can't accept that I'm the Oryx now!"
"They have police for the things you're doing!"
"And they have Global Justice for the things YOU do, but I don't see that stopping you. Face it, girl. You're a hypocrite."
"I am NOT!" Kim retorted. "I've been doing this a lot longer than you, Monique."
"That's because you started in high school! I'm twenty-one, an adult, and I know a lot more than you did when YOU started saving the world. I don't need you trying to mother me!"
"Maybe you do! God knows your real mother can't!"
Then Kim slapped her hands over her mouth. "Monique," she said, her voice muffled. "I shouldn't have said that."
Monique glared at her coldly. "No, you shouldn't have, Kim."
One month after high school graduation, Monique's parents had gone out for dinner. On the way back from the restaurant that night, they had been involved in a one-car accident when their car smashed into the side of a building. The fuel tanks had been ruptured and the car exploded, killing them both. Based on what Monique's father had ordered during his meal, the police suspected he had been driving under the influence. The life insurance company refused to pay because of that, and that was why Monique worked at Club Banana instead of going to college.
Kim lowered her hands. "It's just that . . . sometimes I wonder if that's why you became the Oryx. Like maybe you're risking death because they're gone too," she said quietly. "And I don't want anything to happen to you, I really don't. Other than Ron, Shego, and Wade, you're practically the only close friend I have, Monique. So yeah, I worry about you. You're important to me. I'd like to see just one of my friends living a normal, happy life."
Monique turned away. "I appreciate the sentiment, Kim," she replied. "And you're right. I became the Oryx because of my parents. But not for the reasons you think," she added, whipping her head around to look at Kim. "Despite what you may think, I want to live. I want to live a long time, so I can pay all those bastards back."
"What do you mean, 'those bastards'? Who are you talking about?"
"People like the guy who killed my parents, that's who."
Kim gasped. "But I thought - "
"Here's a little story, Kim," Monique said. "About six months after my mom and dad died, this guy shows up in a hospital emergency room. Seems he's been shot in the stomach. The doctors try to save him, but they can't, and he dies on the operating room table. Later, the medical examiner finds these untreated burns all over his body. Looks like they're a few months old. When the police do a thorough search of this guy's apartment, they find some stolen goods - including my father's wallet and driver's license. And since the police knew he had his wallet when he left the restaurant . . ."
"He was a carjacker," Kim realized.
Monique nodded. "He must have gotten in the back seat and forced them to take him somewhere. But something went wrong and there was a car crash. My parents died, but that scumbag got out of the car in time - he got burned, but he lived."
"But I never heard anything in the papers, or - "
"Yeah, well, you weren't exactly around, were you?" Monique asked.
"I tried to be there for you after the accident, Monique," Kim said, stung. "I'm sorry if that wasn't enough for - "
"Forget it," Monique said, waving a hand. "You're right, you were a good friend after they died. It's my fault for not moving on like everyone else, I guess. Anyway, it wasn't in the papers. They couldn't prove he was responsible, and he was dead anyway, so they closed the case. And I didn't feel like dredging it up again, so I never talked about it. On the other hand," she continued, "the insurance company had to change its tune. I collected over a million dollars from their two policies."
"You did?" Kim asked, surprised. "Then why did you stay in Middleton?"
Monique shrugged. "It felt like blood money. I couldn't bring myself to spend it on something like college. If they had died in an accident, it would have different. But not when they were murdered. Most of the money is in the bank, gathering interest."
"Most of it?"
"How do you think I paid for my costume?" Monique smiled grimly. "I didn't get everything from Wade, you know. As I see it, using that money to stop creeps just like that guy is poetic justice."
Kim rubbed her head. "Mind if I sit down? This is a lot to digest."
"Are you kidding? I've been dealing with this for years, and I still haven't processed it all."
Sitting down, Kim took a moment to think it through. "So is this revenge or justice?" she finally asked.
Monique sat next to her. "It was revenge at first, with a little justice mixed in," she said. "I won't lie. I looked at those punks' faces and thought I saw my parents' killer. Later, though, it stopped being about payback for what was done to me, because I could do this for twenty years and STILL not be satisfied. Now it's about making sure this kind of thing doesn't happen to other people. That's the difference between you and me, Kim."
"Well, you save the world, and 'the world' is kind of an impersonal thing to save. You see the big picture. And don't get me wrong, you've done amazing things and I totally respect and admire you for it," Monique said quickly. "Me, I'm not so interested in the big picture. I want to save the world one person at a time. Like I said before, people need someone like you, and someone like me. So . . . just stop asking me to quit, okay? You have to realize by now how important this is to me. It's personal, Kim."
Kim sighed. "Yeah, I guess it is. God, I wish things were different, though."
Monique chuckled. "You're telling me."
"So if you're so focused on the little picture, then why did you agree to freelance for Team Possible?" Kim asked curiously.
"Well - this might sound funny, considering you said something similar a little while ago. But other than Ron, Shego, and Wade, you're my only close friend. And if me coming along on a mission every so often helps keep you guys safe, then that's all that matters to me." She smiled. "So while you're trying to keep the world safe, I'll be trying to keep you guys safe."
Kim blinked. "Actually, that IS a little funny," she admitted. "You know what else is?"
"Lately it seems like the girl who can do anything is only good for opening her big mouth and shoving her foot in it," Kim said ruefully. "I've been lectured by you, Ron, Shego, my mother, and even a spaceship and a talking car."
"Well, a little humility never hurt a girl who runs around saying, 'Anything's possible for me!'."
"Does a little humility include putting up with being teased by her friends?" Kim asked, grinning.
"Oh, yeah," Monique agreed.
"You know," Kim said, "you might not want to tell Ron about all the details of how you became the Oryx."
Monique looked confused. "Why?"
"You know. Parents killed by mugger, so their child starts dressing in costume and knocking out crooks in the middle of the night?" Kim pointed out gingerly. "It sounds like the intro to that Fearless Ferret show Ron watches."
"Girlfriend, you did NOT just compare me to a television superhero," Monique said. "Do you realize how corny those shows are?"
"Don't even get me started on the lame sidekicks," Kim replied.
"Totally! Hey wait, how do YOU know how the Fearless Ferret begins?"
Kim blushed slightly. "That Snake Charmer we went after. I may have done a little research."
"Mmm-HMM." Monique raised an eyebrow, not entirely believing her.
"Let's just find Dr. Director," Kim grumbled. "And tell her you're on the team - on a contract basis."
"Really!" Monique asked, surprised.
Kim nodded. "Just ask Ron. When you think about it, the safest place to be is wherever I am."
"Oh, I see. Guess you should have emphasized the little in 'little humility'."
"Probably," Kim said.
"I - apologize for shouting at you earlier," Kim said calmly to Dr. Director a few minutes later. "You were only thinking about what was best for Team Possible, and you couldn't have known how I felt about Monique's crimefighting."
"Thank you," Dr. Director replied, "but I probably should have consulted with you first before I offered Monique a job. We agreed at the beginning that such decisions are your domain, and I'm sorry for that."
They shook hands, and that was that. Dr. Director was a consummate professional, Kim thought.
"This will be an interesting topic of conversation when I have lunch with your parents tomorrow," Dr. Director added thoughtfully.
"Well, your mother is a friend of mine, and both your parents are investors in Team Possible Inc., so I do try to keep them up to date. Since your mother's shift doesn't begin until late tomorrow afternoon, Thomas and I will be going to the Space Center for a visit."
Kim closed her eyes and sighed. Then she opened them. "Where did Shego disappear to?"
"She went looking for you. I believe she wants to tell you that you shouldn't expect an apology."
"Of course not," Kim muttered.
She located Shego quickly. She was leaning in the doorway to another room, her distinctive dark locks ending just above what Kim had only this year admitted was a really nice ass. Shego must have heard her coming, though, because she turned her head slightly and raised a green-gloved finger to her lips.
"What?" Kim whispered as she came closer.
"I see it, yet I don't believe it," Shego mumbled.
Kim looked inside and saw Ron sitting cross-legged on the floor, his forearms resting on his knees and his eyes closed. "So he's meditating. So what?"
"Kimmie, since when do sidekicks meditate?"
"You used to be a sidekick, I might point out."
"I didn't meditate. I just got out my heat lamp and my beach chair. Anyway, Stoppable always struck me as having too much of a slacker mentality to be into meditating."
"Ron's not the same person, despite your refusal to believe that," Kim told her. "Or do I have to remind you AGAIN that you promised yourself to treat him with more respect after the Supreme One incident?"
Shego looked down. "Keep trying to forget I said that," she grumbled.
"Anyway," Kim said, "he's probably just trying to prepare himself for our encounter with Monkey Fist."
"Because monkeys are sick and wrong," Shego said sardonically.
"That's not why. Okay, that's partly why," Kim acknowledged. "But mainly it's because Monkey Fist and Ron probably still consider themselves archenemies."
Shego turned away and stared at her in total disbelief. "Stoppable is Monkey Fist's archnemesis?"
"See, again with the lack of respect."
"Kimmie, I just told you, that is NOT how the world works. Sidekicks do not meditate, and they certainly don't become the archenemy of reputable villains," Shego said. "You're the one who always beat Monkey Fist. Why aren't YOU his archenemy?"
"I'm sure he doesn't like me very much," Kim said. "But actually, the first time Monkey Fist tried to attain ultimate monkey power, Ron stopped him without any help from me. So that has a little something to do with it. Plus Ron apparently got some magic powers that Fist wanted, so that's also a factor."
Shego went on looking at her. "Ron Stoppable - "
"And Rufus. And I was giving him advice over the Kimmunicator."
"Whatever. Stoppable fought Monkey Fist in the flesh, and Fist lost?"
"Damn," Shego said. "Damn," she repeated.
"I guess I need to respect him a little more," Shego admitted.
Kim smiled. Fighting prowess was the surest way to gaining Shego's esteem. Just look at Monique.
"Wait another minute," Shego added, pulling Kim farther away from the room where Ron paid them no attention. "How could Ron still be alive if Fist had it out for him that badly?"
"He DID have me in his corner, you know," Kim pointed out.
"That's not what I'm talking about," Shego said darkly. "Look, did you ever wonder why the bad guys didn't try to kill you while you slept? Or maybe blow up your school while you were in class?"
Kim didn't answer for a moment. "Not really," she finally said. "Usually the villains just had their own plans and waited for me to come to them."
"It's a pride thing," Shego explained. "It quickly became the consensus years ago that if a villain would stoop so low as to try to kill you while you were completely vulnerable and defenseless - "
"If someone had thrown a grenade into your bedroom at two in the morning, Princess, what do you think your chances would have been?"
" . . . Not that good."
"That's what I'm trying to say. For a villain, his reputation is almost everything," Shego explained. "You've seen how their egos work. If a villain tried to kill you in your sleep, for example, then it would have been seen as an implied admission that he couldn't defeat you any other way. He'd been viewed as a coward. Or worse, an incompetent. And that's why you never woke up to find a gun barrel pointed in your face."
"Okay," Kim said slowly. "Of course, you never broke into my bedroom for a different reason."
"I worked for Drakken. If I had, it would have reflected upon him," Shego said, looking away.
"You wouldn't have cared about that. You've already admitted it was always about beating me, not killing me," Kim reminded her. "And you wouldn't have gotten any satisfaction out of beating me like that."
Shego ducked her head lower. "No," she mumbled.
Kim used her finger to lift Shego's head by the chin. "Don't worry. I could never think you're soft," she said before kissing her on the lips.
When Kim pulled away, Shego had a dazed yet happy expression on her face. She shook it off, though, and tried to look serious. "I'm trying to make a point, Kimmie," she said.
"Fine. They never tried to attack Ron and me in our homes because it would have made them look bad. I get it."
"That's not why they didn't attack Ron, Kim," Shego said. "Killing a sidekick while he slept would be viewed as way beneath a villain. Ron was considered a pointless target."
"Shego," Kim said, annoyed. "Why do you have to keep insulting him?"
"I'm not trying to," Shego hissed. "I'm trying to say that Monkey Fist wouldn't have felt those rules applied to him! If he really did see Ron as his archenemy, then Ron should have been in mortal danger from him. No one would have given a shit if Monkey Fist killed his archnemesis, a.k.a. Ron, whereas Drakken would have been humiliated forever if he killed HIS archnemesis, a.k.a. you."
Kim was confused, but she was willing to admit that Shego knew these people much better than she did. "So what does it mean?" she asked.
"Well, either Monkey Fist didn't really consider Ron to be an archfoe . . . or he had another reason to let Ron live," Shego said.
"Don't ask me, I'm not sick in the head like Monty is. I'm just saying it's something you should keep in mind."
Kim nodded. "Okay. Whatever Monkey Fist was thinking five years ago, he's still a dangerous warrior, and Ron's fighting skills aren't where they could be. I think that maybe I should begin training Ron while you're training Monique."
"I'm surprised you never trained him before," Shego said.
"Fighting was never a big part of his job description."
Shego shrugged. "It's a start, although he'll never be able to match Monique."
"Oh, I think he could beat Monique if I worked enough with him," Kim said.
"Really?" Shego drawled, her eyes sparkling.
"Uh-oh," Kim thought.
"Then how about a friendly wager?" Shego suggested. "Since we know I'm the better fighter - "
"Let's find out who's the better teacher. I bet you that in one month, Monique could take Stoppable one-on-one."
Kim smiled. Competition would always be the lifeblood of their relationship. "What's the prize?"
Shego grinned evilly. "If Monique wins, you have to dress like me again for another mission." She let her eyes trail down Kim's body. "You know how those baggy pants are wasted on your legs."
Kim chuckled. "Then it's only fair if you have to wear MY mission clothes on a mission if RON wins."
Shego's eyed widened. Kim's smile grew as she realized Shego hadn't thought her wager all the way through. "Fine," Shego said. "Since you have no hope of victory anyway."
"Fine," Kim agreed. "I teach Ron how to fight like me, you teach Monique to fight more like you, and we stay on the sidelines."
Shego slipped her fingers into one of the belt loops on Kim's pants and pulled her close. "The sidelines aren't for people like us, but just this once," she purred. "You know, maybe we should give Ronnie some alone time. His concentration could be broken by . . . loud noises."
"The sparring room or your room?" Kim asked.
"Kimmie, Kimmie," Shego said with a wink. "Haven't you figured out yet? They're the same thing."
Kim shivered. Shivering was a good thing.
To be continued . . .
Author’s Note – For those not familiar with the episode, “The Fearless Ferret” was based on the Batman TV show.