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The Aftermath

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            Shego stormed out of the kitchen towards the living room/laboratory (or what she presumed would be the laboratory once they were unpacked) and began ransacking boxes for an air mattress.

            She heard, rather than saw, Drakken scuffle out of kitchen, his turtle’s pace a sure sign of his sheepishness.

            “Sh—Shego?” he quietly called out to her.

            She didn’t answer him.  She just needed sleep.

            “Shego?” he said a bit more boldly.

            How dare he? she asked herself.  Because, yes, how dare he make light of that?  Of that almost-hug?  Sure, she had rescued him before—she was contractually obligated to do so.  But this was different.  He hadn’t done something stupid—well, actually if he hadn’t decided to call himself the “Great Blue”, then the aliens wouldn’t have been pissed off in the first place—but he was actually kidnapped, as opposed to just… being Drakken.

            She teamed up with the sidekick for him!  Didn’t… didn’t he realize what that sort of thing would do to her pride?  That… that he

            Shego couldn’t tell what was in the box—tears threatened to spill over her eyelids and obscured her view.  And she sure as hell couldn’t have Drakken see that after all.

            She didn’t cry.  She didn’t cry over men and she sure as hell didn’t cry over heartbreak.

            One tear fell onto the flap of the cardboard box in front of her.

            (...Maybe Drakken was the exception to all of that.)

            Except she couldn’t let him see her cry, because it was Drakken, the oblivious fool.  So she grunted in anger as she threw the box across the room and watched as glass spilled out of it.

            (Okay, maybe she should have been paying attention to what was in it after all.)

            “Shego, are you okay?” Drakken asked again, his voice still small but louder.  Shego didn’t need to turn around to know that he was closer to her.

            “Yeah, just dandy, Dr. D.,” she responded, grateful that her tears hadn’t made their way to affecting her vocal cords, but she couldn’t make her way to another box to look for the air mattresses.  If she did, Shego knew that something (or someone) would get blown up by her green fire.

            There was silence in the lair as both parties refused to make a move.  Refused to give in. 

            Refused to take a chance.

            “Did… Did I say… Did I say something wrong?” he finally asked, breaking the silence.

            Shego sighed.  This was Drakken, and if there was one thing that she knew about Drakken, it was that he didn’t know how to act with people.

            It didn’t make his oblivious (and obvious) attitude towards her sting any less.

            “No, Doc, you didn’t,” she whispered.  Feeling the strength to move once again, Shego made her way towards the stack of boxes marked “emergency”, and, of course the top box in that stack contained the air mattresses.

            She pulled two out and threw one at him without looking towards him.  (She did note, however, that his flower petals hadn’t grown back around his neck.  At least that was an improvement.)

            The air mattress hit him square in the face and knocked him over, and after he toppled to the ground, he sat up and let the air mattress remain deflated in his lap for a minute without looking back up at her.  Shego took his silence as an opportunity to pull out the old bike air pump they used for such “emergencies” and began working on her mattress as he sat on the ground, the only sounds in the room being those of the air pump and a slowly inflating mattress.

            “I don’t tell you ‘thank you’ enough, do I?”

            Shego stopped mid-pump, and the sound of a slowly deflating mattress filled the silence.  She stared at him for the entirety of the time it took for the mattress to stop squeaking, but even when silence entered the room again, she still was at a loss for words.

            “Is that why you’re mad?  That I didn’t say ‘thank you’?”  Drakken looked up at her, and Shego recognized that same gleam in his eyes from before—the one filled with sadness and that feeling that she couldn’t name.

            It still wasn’t something that she knew how to handle, but Drakken wouldn’t let it go, no matter how many times she tried to deflect it. 

            The cricket in her mind was grinning suggestively at her.  She mentally flicked it away.

            So she finally settled on something nonchalant.  “Doc, I’m just tired.”

            He got up at this, leaving his deflated mattress on the floor.  “Do you need anything?” he began asking her as he scurried over to a box marked “Childhood Toys”.  Shego furrowed her eyebrows at his antics, but they shot up as he began pulling out particular items.  “Heating pads?  Painkillers?  Pillows?  Chocolates?  Um… otherfemale things?”

            Shego’s mouth gapped open like a fish.  Just what the hell did Drakken think was going on?!

            “Uh, Dr. D.?” he looked up at her, and she found herself trying not to blush at Drakken—Drakken!—holding a box of tampons in his hand.  “Uh… wh-why do-do you have all of that?”

            He blushed for the second time that day as he looked down to what he was holding in his hand and promptly threw the box of tampons back into the box.  “Um… well, you see, Shego… I… I didn’t-didn’t want…”  He trailed off, refusing to look her in the eye as he twiddled his fingers together. 

            “Yeah?” she prompted him.

            Drakken hung his head and sighed.  “I didn’t want you to be uncomfortable.”

            Shego was taken aback at this.  She knew that Drakken was a homebody (read: homemaker) deep down (you know, once you got past the mama’s boy and the mad scientist and the crippling fear of rejection), but this?  This was sickening.

            Sweetly so.

            But Shego didn’t know how to do sweetly sickening, so she scoffed and told him that she was covered—anything to get him to put that box away.

            “Do you have some kind of kink I don’t know about?” she asked as he sealed up the box, trying to lighten the awkward mood that settled over them.  He looked at her in confusion, to which she merely gestured with her foot at the label.

            He blushed again.  “Oh, it’s—it’s the only thing that I could think to mark it to… to make sure you-you didn’t go snooping around.”

            And just like that the awkwardness was gone.  (Okay, so it was still there, but the banter seemed to be back, and that was a good thing… right?)

            Shego shoved his shoulder in response.  Granted, the shove she gave was hard enough to properly jostle him, but it was just light enough that she knew that he would know that she wasn’t serious.  She fought the urge to grin alongside him as he regained his footing.

            The two of them set to work on blowing up the air mattresses and pulling out blankets and the like.  It was like clockwork, and they managed to get everything (read: the bare minimum) ready in less than a half hour between the two of them.

            -------

            Drakken and Shego collapsed onto their mattresses in sync, both exhaling at the same time as their bodies finally truly relaxed for the first time in over twenty-four hours.  Shego lay on her stomach, her face against the pillow, when she heard Drakken laugh.  She turned her face towards him, only to see that he was already looking at her.

            “Thank you, Shego,” he whispered to her.  Shego’s eyes widened.  Just why did he keep insisting on bringing this up?!  He must have seen her freeze, because his eyes widened as well and he began frantically waving his hands, only to prop himself up sideways on his elbow to face her.  “I know you said that that—saying ‘thank you’, that is—wasn’t the issue, and I know that you want sleep, but… Thank you.  Thank you for coming back for me.”

            Shego turned her body over to face him as well, although she was too tired to prop herself up as he had, and instead she opted to just push the side of her pillow down to look at him better.  “Geez, Doc, what’d you think I was going to do?  Leave you up there to die?”

            Because that had been what she was most worried about.  She had been worried that he was going to die.

            And he almost did, the fool.

            Drakken looked at the ground between them, his lips pursed as he tapped his gloved fingers repeatedly against his lab coat.  Shego knew that face—that was his thinking face.  Not his “mad-scientist-world-domination” face, but the face he used when he was trying to understand people.  He was thinking about someone.

            Drakken was thinking about her.

            “Hmmm… well, they had invaded the planet, and there was a high chance that they could have won, Shego.  Then all of that hard work would have been for naught.  You can’t really keep a contract with a mad scientist in a dystopia if the dystopia isn’t controlled by the mad scientist himself.”

            “Your logic is truly dizzying, Dr. D.,” she responded after a moment.  But she knew what he was saying.  She always knew what he was saying.  And what killed her then and there (not that she could show it—not when it seemed like she and Drakken were actually getting back to normal) was the fact that he had brought up that goddamn contract. 

            Did he honestly think that I would have just up and left when he could have been killed?! she asked herself.

            “Tell me what you’re thinking, Shego,” he whispered.  But how could she respond to that?  She mulled over her options.  She couldn’t snap at him (not when they were starting to fix… well, them).  She couldn’t… she couldn’t tell him the truth… Could she?

            “Shego, until I ‘get my blue ass’ on making a mind-reading machine, I really can’t know what’s going on in that head of yours,” he teased.

            This was Drakken in front of her.  When did she ever lie to protect him?

            … When did this become about protecting him instead of protecting herself?

            She inhaled in an attempt to sigh, but only a yawn came out instead.  “Did—” Another yawn.  “Did you hon—” Another yawn.  “Honestly think that I would have just abandoned you?” she said with a tired voice.  Shego’s eyelids began to droop, and thus, while she thought that she saw Drakken open up his mouth to respond to her, she couldn’t be sure.  Either way, he didn’t vocalize anything, so that was good.

            But her filter was just shot to hell.  Even though she was exhausted, she knew that she probably shouldn’t have been speaking. 

            Yet that knowledge wasn’t enough to actually stop her from speaking, mind you.

            “You could have been killed, Andrew,” Shego muttered.  Sleep was taking over her fast, and she couldn’t even be sure whether she said those words out loud or to herself in the fog of her haze.