Shades of Green: One Month
The Villainess, The Valkyrie, and The Hulk
Walking out of the living room, Janet and Shego began to contemplate on what their next activity would be for the evening. It wasn't difficult for Janet to guess what, or rather whom to be more precise, Shego's thoughts were now focused on at this very moment. From the very beginning of the day, Janet and Shego noticed that Hulk had been distant, moreso than he usually is on a daily basis.
Neither Shego or Janet knew why Hulk was in such a mood, only that it was best for them to leave the Jade Giant alone in peace until he wished to speak with them on his own terms. Both women knew not to pressure or try to force Hulk into revealing what was truly bothering him. This could especially be said of Shego, who remembers quite a few times that Hulk nearly went on a rampage after she'd tried to accomplish the feat of getting the Green Goliath to tell her of the problems that plagued his troubled mind.
She learned to be very patient with him. It was difficult for her at first, but Shego eventually realized that it was the only way that she could get Hulk to talk to her on his terms, thus allowing her to become that much closer to him and vice-versa. Still, she couldn't help but wonder if becoming closer to Hulk was such a good idea. It seemed like no matter how many times she tried to convince herself that it was all part of her plan, of her original intentions regarding the Green Goliath, she couldn't deny the affection she felt towards Hulk, nor could she deny that as each day passed he became more and more endearing to her heart.
She'd been alone for so long. She had gotten used to being a loner. But now that she'd met Hulk, now that she'd befriended some of the Avengers, she didn't know what to think anymore. She had achieved something that she longed for all of her life: Friendship and acceptance. She'd found someone, a being who was just as tortured and lonely as she was, whom managed to break through the nigh-unbreachable barriers that she put up around her emotions and her heart long ago. It was when she came to this realization that Shego knew she didn't want to lose this acceptance and friendship, she didn't want to lose her chance at love with the one being who'd somehow unknowingly managed to capture her heart.
Shego knew that there was no turning back. She accepted this fact. And to be honest, she didn't care in the very least. Deep down in her heart, Shego knew that she'd gained what she truly desired, even though she would never admit it to anyone. For the first time in a long time, perhaps one of the extremely few times of her nearly thirty year life, she was at peace and happy with herself and her existence in the universe.
"So... what're you planning on doing today, Sheena?", Janet asks in her usual warm and optimistic voice.
"Not sure, Jan. I haven't really thought of anything yet. However, I was going to check on Hulk to see if he's okay. Who knows, maybe I can cheer him up a bit.", Shego responded with a slight shrug of her shoulders, briefly glancing at the cheerful brunette as they continued walking.
"Oh, I see. You're going to try romancing Hulk out of his brooding, grumpy mood. Am I right?", Janet remarks, her voice both teasing and playful in tone.
"You could say that.", Shego retorts with a sly smirk.
"It's nice to know that you care about him, Sheena. I can tell he's starting to become closer to you. Who knows? If Hulk ever does come to his senses and then realizes that he likes you, and I mean likes you as something more than just a friend, you two might have a great future together. After all, only time will tell.", Wasp said in reply, her voice as gentle as it was sincere.
"Yeah, if he ever stops playing hard to get. It's just that... I genuinely care about Hulk, Janet, but it seems like he's afraid of letting himself get that close to me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not giving up or anything, and I'm making progress, but I just wish that there was a way to make him see how much he truly means to me, ya know?", Shego states, staring directly into Janet's violet-blue irises.
"Yeah, I know. But don't worry. I'm sure that Hulk does know, at least one some level or another. Why else would he willingly spend so much time with you; allowing you to sneak into his room and sleep atop him in his own bed, eating breakfast together, watching TV shows together, fighting villains side-by-side while making sure that you're safe and having conversations with one another? And did I mention that Hulk always has his eyes on you while you train?", Janet reasoned, a giggle of amusement escaping her as she noticed the awkward smile and light blush that colored Shego's pale cheeks.
"Very cute, Jan. Very cute.", Shego chuckled, giving the brunette a playful shove.
"Still, you should consider yourself lucky, Sheena. At least you don't have to worry about any other feminine competition for Hulk's affection. I mean, not that there isn't women out there who wouldn't be interested in Hulk, 'cause they're probably is a few. Like... Valkyrie, for example. She really, really likes Hulk. Now, if she'd be here, she would be your only real competition for his heart.", Wasp informed evenly, hearing a low growl escape from Shego's throat.
"Oy! Did you have to bring her up in this conversation?", Shego groaned, her expression becoming more enraged and serious in appearance at the mentioning a the female Asgardian warrior woman.
"What? She's the only one that I could think of at the moment!", Janet proclaims in her own defense, slightly biting her low lip as she made a slight pout.
"Yeah, well, I don't want to even talk about that golden-haired Asgardian bimbo! I almost hate her as much as I hate that redhead that I knew some years ago.", Shego declared, memories of her battles with Kim Possible returning to her mind.
"Still hold a grudge, don't ya, Sheena?", Janet teased.
"Hey! She came here and tried to take Hulk back to Asgard with her just so that she could have him all to herself! Did she honestly think that I was going to let her, or any woman for that matter, take Hulk away from me? I mean, the nerve of that blue-eyed, golden-haired, Asgardian floozy! Who does she think she is?", Shego exclaimed, clenching her hands tightly into fists.
She remembered that day all too well. It was bad enough that she had to spend the whole day competing with Valkyrie for Hulk's attention, but it failed in comparison to what the female Asgardian warrior's intentions were regarding the Green Goliath. She wished for Hulk to be her mate, to live with her in Asgard, to fight by her side in battle and to eventually have a family with her. Needless to say, once Shego found this out in the form of Valkyrie quite bluntly stating it right in front of her, she got into more than one fight with the female Asgardian on that very day. It was just fortunate enough that Hulk was around to seperate them both before any harm could be done.
Shego wasn't going to lose Hulk. Not to her... not to anyone! She would fight for him. She knew that he was worth fighting for, that he was worth dying for. If Valkyrie was going to make an attempt to take him, to steal her beloved Green Goliath away, she'd have to go through her first!
"Mm-hmm. Tell me, Sheena... Is it me, or are you seriously jellin' right now?", Janet asks, an amused smirk forming on her lovely visage.
"What?", Shego replies, turning her head to glare at the playful brunette who's one of her closest friends.
"You heard me. Are you jealous, Sheena?", Janet asked once again, crossing her arms over her ample chest.
"No!", Shego hissed, turning away from the cheerful heroine.
"Oh, I think you are.", Janet replies calmly.
"No, I'm not!", Shego growled, refusing to make eye contact with Wasp.
"Yes, you are.", Janet goaded with mischievous glee.
"Zip it, Jan!", Shego snarled coldly.
"Right now I'm looking at a green-eyed monster. And guess what? This time, it's not the Hulk!", Janet whispered close to Shego's ear.
"Shut. Up. Now.", Shego growled out between clenched teeth.
"Jealousy will get you nowhere, Sheena.", Janet said in response.
"Okay! You know what? Let me make it clear to you, Janet. I am not jealous of any woman on the face of the Earth, let alone in existence, okay? And I am especially not jealous of that low-down, sleazy, arrogant, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, Hulk-stealing tramp!", Shego stated as she turned to glare at Janet, her face coming within inches of the cheerful brunette's slightly intimidated visage.
The sound of a strong knock on the doors of Avengers Mansion, followed by JARVIS annoucing the presence of an unexpected guest, caused the tension created by the conversation between Shego and Wasp to disappear almost immediately. Both of the super-powered women turned their attentions to the entrance, each wondering who could possibly be the identity of the individual. One thing was certain, and that was the fact that they would both soon find out!
"I'll just go get that.", Janet smiled uneasily as she rushed to open the doors of the mansion.
Opening the doors to the entrance of Avengers Mansion, Janet was surprised to discover the very being, whom was the center of her and Shego's conversation, standing directly right in front of her. Dressed in her usual Asgardian attire, her lithe body covered in silver uru armor and black clothing, her long golden hair braided into two long tresses, was none other than the blue-eyed warrior known by the name of Brunnhilde, but to most she is known as Valkyrie. It was at that very moment that Janet felt the tension sky-rocket to unimaginable levels, especially when the female Asgardian warrior entered the same room that Shego was currently in.
"You!", Shego hissed as she slowly approached, narrowing her emerald-green eyes at the other woman who dared to challenge her for the right to obtain Hulk's affection.
"Uh-oh.", Wasp whispered to herself, biting her bottom lip and making sure to stay clear of these two fighting female heroines.
"What are you doing here?", Shego demands in a snarl, instantly igniting her clenched fists with fiery emerald plasma energy.
Valkyrie came to a stop less than twenty feet from where Shego stood, not intimidated in the very least by the deadly pale green-skinned femme fatale. She was here for a reason. She came here for the Hulk, and she wasn't about to leave without him. She wouldn't allow this pale green flesh-hued mortal woman take away one of the few beings who was worthy of receiving her love and affection.
"It is none of your concern. However, if it'll satisfy your curiosity, I am here for the Hulk.", Valkyrie responded matter-of-factly, maintaining her composure despite feeling a strong urge to verbally or physically fight the pale green-skinned beauty.
"Oh, yeah? Where do you think you're taking him?", Shego inquired, her attention solely focused on that of the blonde Asgardian warrior woman.
"The reasons for which I am here for the Hulk are that of my own. All that you need to know is that he'll be coming with me to Asgard for several days and nights.", Valkyrie answered, taking another step in Shego's direction.
"Not if I have anything to say about it, blondie!", Shego snarled, rushing forward and giving Valkyrie a solid shove that causes the goddess to stagger backwards.
"You would dare stand in my way, mortal?", Valkyrie hissed in reply, narrowing her blue eyes at the former villainess.
"Oh, you bet I dare! I'm not gonna let you walk in here and take Hulk away from me! Not while I'm still alive and standing!", Shego retorted with a hiss of her own.
"Hmph! You act as if he is yours to claim. I assure you, Sheena, he is not.", Valkyrie scoffed.
"Oh? And you think you do, Brunnhilde?", Shego sneered in a mocking demeanor.
"Of course. After all, Hulk has been to my bed chambers.", Valkyrie replied, a smug and triumphant smirk gracing her lovely features.
It was at that very instant that Janet put some distance between herself and Shego & Valkyrie, knowing that whatever was about to transpire next wasn't going to be very pleasant. She could clearly see Shego's muscles tense up and the fiery emerald plasma that encased her fists intensify greatly. A conflict between these two powerful women was unavoidable. It was imminent.
"Care to repeat that again, Val?", Shego gritted out between clenched teeth.
"What's wrong? Do my words irk you, Shego? Or is it that you now know that Hulk's affection was mine long before you've ever met him?", Valkyrie asked, taunting Shego in every way imagineable, as if hoping to start a physical confrontation.
"Liar!", Shego snarled, rushing forward to attack Valkyrie.
They would have collided, but someone decided to intervene at the very last possible second. Smashing feet first directly into the marble flooring, Hulk landed between the two deadly feminine warriors, his sudden appearance causing them both to stop dead in their tracks. The Hulk had been watching them from a distance, listening to everything that they'd said to one another. He knew why Shego and Valkyrie were fighting. It was because of him. He was the cause of all of this.
"Enough!", Hulk roared, glaring first at Valkyrie and then at Shego.
"Stand aside, Hulk.", Valkyrie ordered.
"Yeah! Get outta the way! This is between me and blondie!", Shego responded evenly, wanting nothing more than to vent her fury upon the blonde Asgardian warrior woman.
"No! This stops here and now!", Hulk snarls, continuing to glare at both women.
"Uh-uh! This stops when I finally teach Val a very painful lesson!", Shego agrued, smashing her plasma encased right fist into the palm of her left hand.
"'Tis you who will learn a lesson in pain, pale green wench!", Valkyrie retorts, preparing to unsheath her sword known as Dragonfang from its holder.
"Oh, yeah? Bring it on, ya blonde-haired floozy!", Shego hissed in reply, getting into her fighting stance once again.
"With pleasure, witch!", Valkyrie snarls, ready for the battle that was sure to come.
This was his fault, all of it. Hulk had to stop them from fighting. He knew that if they would fight, great harm would surely befall them both. He couldn't let that happen. He didn't want Shego and Valkyrie to be injured, not like this, not by fighting over him. He had to put an end to this now.
"STOP!", Hulk roared, smashing his right foot into the marble flooring with enough devastating force to send both Shego and Valkyrie crashing to the floor... not to mention causing a powerful seismic tremor that could be felt for a dozen city blocks.
"I'm not worth it! I'm not worth fighting over! I... I don't deserve either of you.", Hulk spoke, his voice filled with a deep sorrow while a painful, tragic expression appeared on his emerald visage as lowered his head, averted his gaze and tightly closed his eyes in attempt to suppress the heartache that he kept contained for so long.
Shego and Valkyrie could only stare at Hulk, his words cutting them deeper than any blade ever could. His voice was filled with a deep sense of self-loathing, sorrow and unfathomable pain. It was enough to bring tears to any being, mortal and immortal alike. Neither of them could believe that Hulk thought this way about himself, that he truly believed that didn't deserve love and friendship, that he was unworthy of achieving the affection that both Shego and Valkyrie harbored for him.
"Hulk... I...", Shego managed to speak, finally finding her voice only to become silent once again as Hulk glared savagely at her.
"Leave me alone.", Hulk growled, turning away from the two women before proceeding to walk out of the mansion doors.
Valkyrie and Shego slowly got to their feet, neither saying a word to one another as they watched Hulk depart from the mansion. They barely took notice of Janet Van Dyne's approach, at least not until she got up close and personal with the two women. Janet wasn't usually one who wouldn't allow her anger out, but when she did become enraged and decided to vent her rage, it was best to shut up and listen to whatever she had to say... or suffer the consequences!
"Now are the both of you satisfied?", Wasp demanded in exclaimation, anger evident on her normally cheerful and care-free visage.
"He has every right to be angry with both of you. He's been fighting all of his life. I know that he won't admit, but even Hulk gets tired of fighting all the time. So, tell me, do either of you really think he wants to see you fight each other? Do either of you think he wants to see you get hurt? He cares about you... both of you. Now, whoever he falls in love with is his choice, but shouldn't you take into consideration that his heart is big enough for the both of you? If you two could just accept that, I think both of you could become friends. If not for yourselves, then at least do it for Hulk. I think he deserves it, don't you?", Wasp stated in a calm, reasonable, stern and utterly sincere tone of voice.
And with that, Janet proceeded to walk up the stairs, leaving Shego and Valkyrie alone. In all honestly, she hoped that they've got the message. She wanted the rivalry between Shego and Valkyrie to end, not only for Hulk's sake, but for their own. If they could set aside their grudge against one another, they might actually become friends. She could only hope that the two women would work out their differences... without resorting to violence.
Shego could only look in the direction in which Hulk left, a feeling of pain and utter anguish entering her heart. When she'd seen the expression on Hulk's face and look in his emerald-green eyes, it threatened to shatter her very heart into a million pieces. She never wanted to hurt him, she never wanted to cause him any pain. But she did, and knowing that only made her heart ache even greater. She fought back the tears she felt building within her jade-green eyes before turning her head to focus her gaze on that of Valkyrie, who seemed to be just as hurt and upset as she was over what transpired between themselves and the Hulk.
She wanted to fight Valkyrie, beat her within an inch of her life. She wanted to blame her for everything that happened, that it was all her fault for hurting Hulk. But she couldn't. The blame was much hers as it was that of the female Asgardian's own. And she knew it.
It was then that Shego finally came to a decision, one that she thought she'd never have to accept or even consider until the last couple of minutes. No matter how much she disliked Valkyrie, she knew that she had to be the one to make peace between them. She would show weakness just this once, but only for him... only for Hulk.
"She's right.", Shego said in a low voice.
"Aye. She is.", Valkyrie agreed, releasing a heavy sigh.
"Look, I know that we haven't... it's just that...", Shego said as she struggled to find the right words to say.
"Do you care about Hulk, Val?", Shego asked after a brief moment of silence.
"Yes. Do you, Sheena?", Valkyrie questioned in reply.
"Yes, I do. A lot.", Shego answered, not afraid to admit what she felt in her heart.
"'Tis humorous, don't you think? We care for the same one, yet we barely tolerate one another.", Valkyrie chuckled lightly.
"Yeah, but it doesn't mean that it has to stay that way, does it?", Shego asked with a chuckle of her own.
"I suppose not.", Valkyrie replied with a sly smirk.
"So... what do ya say, Val? Friends?", Shego offered, extending her right hand to the female Asgardian warrior.
"Aye. Friends.", Valkyrie accepted, reaching out and firmly grasping the pale green-skinned beauty's right hand with her own.
"Now that that's settled, I think we both need to go and have a talk with a certain someone.", Shego stated, knowing that they both had to confront the Hulk.
"Aye, Sheena. I only hope that he is willing to listen... and to forgive.", Valkyrie responded, her gaze averting towards the doors of the mansion in which Hulk departed through.
Resting against the base of the tree within the front yard of Avengers Mansion, the Hulk was left alone to his thoughts. He was angry. Not at Banner, not at Shego or Valkyrie, but at himself. His life was full of trauma, turmoil, grief and destruction, and those who suffered the worst were those closest to him. He put them in danger. That's why he was better off alone. He wasn't concerned about his own safety, but the safety of those closest to his heart was an entirely different matter.
He feared letting anyone get too close. It seemed like whenever he allowed someone to get too close, something tragic would always happened to that person. Could he go through that again? Could he allow either Shego or Valkyrie the chance to become closer to him? So deep in thought was the Green Goliath that he didn't take notice of the approach of the very two women who've been the subject of his internal conflict.
"Hulk?", Shego's voice spoke out, startling the Jade Giant out of his thought and causing him to avert his attention towards the direction her voice came from.
Hulk was surprised to discover not only Shego, but Valkyrie as well. They were standing beside one another, side by side, and they surprisingly weren't trying to kill each other. It was a sight that he thought he'd never see in a million years. What could have possibly happened to make them act in such a manner? Could it be that he was the one to unknowingly bring about this truce between the two headstrong women?
"What do you want?", Hulk demanded, raising a questioning eyebrow, looking directly at the two heroines.
"We want to apologize to you, Hulk.", Shego answered, lowering her head ever so slightly as she fiddled with her hands.
"Aye. Our actions were uncalled for. We only hope that you'll forgive us for the pain we've caused you.", Valkyrie added solemnly, lowering her head ever so slightly.
And then there was silence. A silence that seemed to last an eternity. Releasing a heavy sigh, Hulk focused on the two women, his mind at war with the emotions that lurked within himself. It was times like this that Hulk wished Banner would actually appear to give him some much needed advice.
"What I said was true. I don't deserve either of you.", Hulk stated in a low tone of voice, averting his gaze away from them once again.
"Why do you say that?", Shego questioned, taking a seat on the grassy ground beside him, leaving Valkyrie to rest against Hulk's right side as she also took a seat on the grass.
"Have you forgotten? I'm a monster. If you stand by my side, you'll only get hurt. It always happens.", Hulk informed with a grimace.
"No, you're not, Hulk. You're not a monster. And besides, shouldn't the person herself decide if that risk is worth taking?", Shego reasoned, reaching out and grasping his massive left hand with her hands in an affectionate gesture.
"She's right, Hulk. You cannot live in fear your entire life. If someone wishes to become close to you, should you not let them make that decision for theirself?", Valkyrie countered, resting her left hand on the Hulk's shoulder in an attempt to comfort him.
"Yes... I guess it is.", Hulk reluctantly agreed.
"So... do you forgive us, big guy?", Shego asked hesitantly.
Hulk seemed to contemplate for a brief moment, glancing at Shego and then at Valkyrie, deciding on what his next course of action should be and seemingly investigating their demeanor all at once. They seemed to be on the same page, agreeing to cooperate and get along with one another for his sake alone. It touched him to a degree. Still, he had to be sure.
"No more fighting?", Hulk asked with a raised eyebrow.
"No more fighting.", Shego and Valkyrie answered in unison.
"I forgive you. Both of you.", Hulk answered, a light smile gracing his features.
Before Hulk could even react, Shego and Valkyrie each dropped an affectionate kiss on his cheeks at the exact same time. His eyes widened in surprise, a strange heat rushing up to his face. He never could have seen this coming. He never thought Shego and Valkyrie could set aside their differences. But they did... for him. Maybe it was time to allow others to become close to him again.
"Thank you, Hulk.", Valkyrie and Shego said in unison.
"Heh. Don't mention it.", Hulk said, a full-fledged smile finally appearing on his face, his arms embracing the two women and bring them closer to his muscular form.