Spoilers: Takes place after "But for the Grace of Ron".
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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.
"Well, I have good news and I have bad news," Dr. Director said the following afternoon.
"The next words out of your mouth had better not be 'the check didn't clear'," Shego muttered.
"The good news," Dr. Director said, ignoring Shego's remark as the former thief lounged in her chair, "is that the police recovered the other stolen chemicals in the thieves' hideout, so the client will be paying us in full. More importantly, Jaqui had an outstanding warrant against her for attempted murder. Apparently she assaulted a security guard during a heist in Texas and almost severed his jugular with those fans of hers. So she's being extradited to San Antonio for trial there, along with the hacker as an accessory. And we got a bad person off the streets last night."
"Good," Kim replied. "So what's the bad news?"
Dr. Director frowned. "The bad news is that we still don't know who the buyer was. Both Jaqui and E-Cool have remained silent on the identity of the person, or persons, who hired them to steal the chemicals, and the police were unable to uncover any information at the hideout. Whoever the buyer was, he or she has managed to remain well hidden. The client is putting us on retainer in the meantime, in case someone makes a second attempt to steal the chemicals."
Kim looked at Ron. "Think it's anyone we know?"
"Who knows?" Ron asked, shrugging. "Does it matter?"
"It matters," Dr. Director told them, "because it reminds us that several years have passed since your greatest enemies were people like Monkey Fist and Professor Dementor and Doctor Drakken - "
"And me," Shego said calmly.
"And you, Shego," Dr. Director acknowledged. "At any rate, there are bound to be new criminals rising up, now that the Acceptables are gone and the old criminal guard is vanishing. Soon you may have an entirely new gallery of archvillains to worry about."
"Great," Kim sighed. "I like a little variety in my sources of aggravation. Thanks for the heads-up, Dr. Director."
"Of course, Kim."
"Any new missions yet?" Shego asked.
"Nothing yet, but I'm sure they'll come as word gets out."
"At least that leaves plenty of time for you to train, Ron," Kim said sweetly.
Ron grunted, but he didn't complain, which Shego couldn't help but notice. She'd counted on winning the wager partly because she didn't think Stoppable could survive a month of Kim's exacting sparring sessions. But if he was keeping up with the program - and Kim would undoubtedly say this was another example of how she underestimated Ron - then Shego would have to work with Monique that much harder.
Meanwhile Kim was already on her feet, taking Dr. Director aside for a moment. "Is everything all right, Dr. Director?" she asked. "Our conversation the other morning was a little . . . unusual."
"I apologize about that, Kim," Dr. Director said. "I was a bit stressed over the incident with Thomas and Sappho, and my being awake all night probably wasn't conducive to my mood. I shouldn't have made those remarks about your personal life."
"No big," Kim replied. "And I'm sure Tommy will be fine. He's surrounded by some of the top doctors and scientists in the country, after all."
"Speaking of which, your mother asked me to meet her for coffee this afternoon. She says she has a few ideas about Thomas' treatment. Is there anything you'd like me to pass along for you?"
"Well, training with Ron all afternoon," Kim said, "and then an evening out with Shego before she has HER training with Monique. So just tell her - "
"You'll be home late?" Dr. Director said dryly.
"Please and thank you."
"Sorry I'm late," Dr. Director said as she sat down, "but - "
She stopped as she realized there was a second person sitting across from Mrs. Dr. Possible. And this was a person she'd just met.
"Hello again, Betty," Vivian Porter said.
"You remember Vivian, of course," Holly added.
"Of course," Betty Director said. "I'm sorry, I didn't know anyone else would be here."
"Honestly, I'm curious why I was asked here too," Vivian said. "I do have a lot of work waiting for me back at the lab."
"This is about your work, Vivian," Holly said, "the most important kind of work you can do. Any medical doctor knows there are times when you call on another doctor to consult on patients with complex illnesses, and frankly, Betty's son has a truly unique problem."
"Holly!" Betty said, startled. "It's not something I want just anybody knowing."
"But Vivian isn't just anybody," Holly said. "She's the foremost robotics expert in the area, isn't that right?"
Vivian smiled. "If by area you mean half the United States, then yes, that's right."
"Betty," Holly explained, "I've been viewing Thomas' implants from a purely medical perspective, but the incident the other day with Sappho reminded me that this has as much to do with robotics and computers as it has to do with medicine. I think Vivian could have crucial insights into how to deal with Thomas' condition."
"I'm sorry," Vivian said, "but I don't understand what you're talking about. Thomas, right? The little boy? What kind of implants are you referring to?"
Holly didn't answer. She just looked at Betty.
Dr. Director thought for a moment before she realized that Holly was almost certainly right. Thomas' mother had intended to make him one half of the ultimate cyborg - the giant robot with the human brain. To focus on the neurological aspects was to ignore half of the equation. "Thomas . . . is my adopted son," she said quietly. "His birth mother inserted cybernetic implants into his brain so he could interact with computers. And she's dead now, so we're not entirely sure HOW she did it, or how it will affect him as he gets older."
Vivian looked stunned. "That's inexcusable!" she said. "And you want my help?"
Betty nodded soberly. "If he can't be normal, then at least I need him to be safe."
Dr. Porter took her cell phone out. "Oliver?" she said a moment later. "Put my experiments on hold for the remainder of the day. I'll be busy with a new project today, and I may be bringing someone back to the lab later as well . . . in fact, hold on," she added before putting the phone down and looking at Betty. "This isn't the best or most private place to talk," she said. "Do you think you could bring Thomas to the lab?"
"I would need to be there the whole time," Dr. Director told her.
"Of course," Vivian said. "I'd need you to tell me everything you know about his condition."
"I have to get back to the hospital," Holly told them, "but I brought my notes for you to look at. Just make sure I get those back later."
"Of course, Holly," Vivian said. "Thanks for calling me about this."
"Yes, thank you," Betty echoed, looking at Holly as she rose, handing over a folder containing papers.
Holly smiled at her. "That's what friends are for, Betty," she said.
She kept smiling as she left. She'd meant those last words. Besides being able to help with Thomas, Vivian could also be a second friend to Betty, someone else to help ease her stress over Thomas' health, as well as be a friend in other ways. And frankly, Vivian could probably use a human friend as well.
"When this is all over, Betty," she murmured, "I know a doctor or two I can set you up with."
"So - huh - you're saying I should wear something brighter?"
"It's a little too late for that. The black's already become your look," Shego replied. "But by wearing green since I was younger, I was forced to become more stealthy. I couldn't just rely on my clothes to help me fade into the shadows."
"Is that why - ugh - you chose those colors?" Monique asked.
"The person who gave me my gloves - "
"Not the Supreme One."
"Nope, not her, the lying bitch. Whoever it was, they suggested I try wearing something that matched, something form-fitting. And it did help me create an identity," Shego said easily, sounding much less tired than Monique.
Monique was NOT in fact tired, as Shego well knew. She was practicing sounding tired. Deception was a part of every fight, and being able to believably sound winded before you actually WERE was especially useful when fighting a man. Men were inclined to assume that women tired quickly.
Shego figured that, across town, Kim was teaching Stoppable the way a coach might diagram football plays. Kim would go through each move, step by step, and lay it all out with visual aids and exhausting detail.
This wager was about competing styles of teaching, not fighting. So Shego taught Monique the best way she knew.
They fought. Without end.
Shego purposely held herself back, because Monique wasn't at her level yet. If she were, there'd be no need for these lessons. And she limited her repertoire of moves, using certain attacks repeatedly until Monique learned to recognize them, anticipate them, defend against them, and use them herself. Then Shego used new moves to bewilder and, eventually, instruct her.
Monique wouldn't know the names of these moves, but who cared? She'd memorize them all the same.
Shego's lectures were limited to general bits of advice, and lessons which, while painful, were better learned now than later during a real fight with a real enemy.
"By the way," Shego said conversationally as she dodged a punch, "Kimmie and I had sex the other night."
Monique's defenses collapsed as she stared at Shego, who kicked the Oryx's legs out from under her with the ease of a child.
"Banter isn't just a hero-villain tradition," Shego said, looking down. She was pleased by the way Monique could carry on a conversation with her while fighting, but talking to your opponent wasn't all chitchat. "A well-timed, provocative remark can completely throw you off your game."
"Right, got it," Monique said as she got up. "For a second there I thought you were being serious."
"Oh, I was," Shego said as she kicked upwards.
Her foot stopped an inch from Monique's face. She hadn't even tried to defend herself. "Monique," Shego said, exasperated. "I just told you - "
"Time the fuck out, girlfriend," Monique retorted. "Did you mean it or NOT?"
Shego grinned. "I'll let you tell me about your next time if you like."
Monique grimaced. "You don't do girl talk like other people, you know that?"
"What can I say?" Shego asked. "If I was like other people, would I be here right now?"
"Probably not," Monique admitted. She leaned against a wall. "You told anybody else about this?"
"Not really sure who else I'd talk to," Shego said. "I'm sure Kimmie's told Stoppable by now."
Monique wasn't so sure. She'd sparred with Ron two nights ago, and he hadn't mentioned it. Now granted, Ron wasn't the type to spill that kind of secret to anyone, even her. But she would have known by his body language if anything was bothering him, and while Ron was basically okay with Kim's relationship, hearing something like this would have been a distraction for a few days, easy.
Then she chuckled. "So, girlfriend, details?"
Shego shook her head smugly. "I don't kiss and tell - much."
"Well . . . " Shego looked away for a second. "I'd had a couple one-night stands before the Acceptables locked me up," she said, suddenly quieter. "Once with a guy, and then once with a girl, if only for the sake of not being conventional. And it was good, but one wasn't really better than the other. Kim, though - "
Monique took a step forward. "What?" she asked gently.
"I've, well." Shego seemed embarrassed. "I've always told Kim that there'll never be another person in my life because there'll never be another her. And after last night - I believe that more than ever."
"Wow," Monique said. She folded her arms. "So, you tell her you love her yet?"
Shego jumped as if she'd been goosed. "Whoa, wait, what?" she said, shocked.
"Oh, come on, Shego. It's pretty obvious."
"I don't love her," Shego said, defensive. "That's not the kind of person I am. I don't go in for that gooshy, mushy stuff."
"Right," Monique said, not believing her. "You're not in love. She's just someone you'll never be able to replace, someone you'll be with for the rest of your life, and someone who gave you the most unbelievable sex of your life."
"Exactly," Shego replied.
Monique shook her head. "You got issues, girl."
"Break's over," Shego retorted. "Unless you want to be up until dawn."
Shrugging, Monique assumed a fighting stance. "Whatever you say," she said.
As Shego slashed her clawed gloves through the air, narrowly missing a dodging Monique, the black-clad vigilante calmly asked, "When you going to make an honest woman out of Kim, anyway?"
Shego almost lost her balance, the comment surprised her so, and Monique's open palm shot out, striking Shego in the shoulder and driving her back a step or two.
"You know, Shego," Monique said wickedly, "I'm told a well-timed, provocative remark can completely throw you off your game."
Unable to bite back a laugh, Shego dove back into the fight, and the subject wasn't mentioned again that night.
Wade drank from the water bottle in his hand. "Give me a scrolling feed of major news stories hitting the wire in America's largest cities," he said out loud. The voice-recognition software he'd designed years ago efficiently began work, and a slow crawl of breaking stories in the Atlanta region began to move across the screen before him.
He rubbed his other arm across his forehead, wiping sweat away. A couple years ago his mother had installed the treadmill in his room, claiming that if he wasn't going to play outside like other kids, he'd at least get his exercise indoors.
Wade couldn't argue with her logic, but working out and working on the computers tended to conflict with each other, and for weeks at a time the treadmill grew dusty.
Lately, however, he'd begun using it on his own initiative. In fact, he was thinking about getting some free weights. Maybe even a Nautilus some day.
The "sitch" was that, unlike five years ago when he was still just young enough to order from the kids' menu, he was noticing girls now.
Wade was too savvy to ignore the fact that most girls wouldn't be too interested in a short, overweight sixteen-year-old who sat in front of computers most of his life. His early graduation wouldn't interest them. Nor would his intelligence, his computer skills, or his personality.
They'd see the geek. Hence the working out.
Of course he was surrounded by beautiful women - he'd worked with Kim for years, naturally, but it was only at a certain age that Kim suddenly became "attractive". And Shego didn't leave much to the imagination with the outfits she wore.
But the girl he was noticing most these days was Monique. They'd dated briefly when she first started as the Oryx, although the dates were more like friends hanging out and going to movies together. Unlike other guys, she didn't have to make excuses when she suddenly vanished to do her "protecting the night" thing.
Wade doubted she was attracted to him. At sixteen, he was probably too young for her.
That didn't mean he couldn't still try to impress . . .
"Computer, pause!" he called out, shocked. "Click on the second link from the Boston area." Wade pushed a button on the treadmill, bringing it to a complete stop.
ZOO THIEF MURDERED WHILE AWAITING TRIAL; POLICE SUSPECT FELLOW INMATE
So-called "Snake Charmer" killed in prison
Wade already had a suspect of his own. Someone who had a reason to shut the Snake Charmer up before she could talk - or someone who wanted to punish her because she DID talk.
"Monkey Fist," he breathed. "If you're behind this, I'll find you. And then it's finally over for you."