Story: Give Me One Reason (all chapters)

Authors: A Markov

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Chapter 1

Title: Green Suede Boots, One: For the Money


I was in my room. Well, it was the room I stayed in when we were at the tower. I was so pissed off; I thought I was going to explode. I tried to let out my frustration by screaming. I screamed as loud as I could for as long as I could. And when I wound down, I took a deep breath and screamed some more. I couldn’t believe he had done it to me, again. My own brother, taking the word of some idiot flatfoot cop over mine, acting like I don’t know what’s going on… again… making me feel like I’m clueless… again… embarrassing me… again… just thinking about it made my hands flicker. I squelched the urge to blast through the walls of my room and set fire to the big, fat, slow, stupid, idiotic, puerile… Ha! He probably didn’t even know what “puerile” meant. The big, fat, slow, stupid…

My profound thoughts were interrupted by a light pounding on the door to my room. The officious jerk knew better than to come barging in here. And after what happened last time, I was guessing he was standing off to one side of the doorway, just in case.

“Hey! Uh… Sis…”

What do you want?” I said calmly, in my loudest most shrill voice.

“What’s wrong with you?”

“What’s wrong?” I couldn’t believe my ears for the second time in less than an hour. “What’s wrong?” I repeated. “WHAT’S WRONG?” I yelled, yanking open the door to my room. He was standing a several feet down the hallway; I guess he had learned something from the last time. “You!” I hissed at him. “You’re what’s wrong.” I closed the distance between us rapidly and buried my finger into his chest. “You. Are. What’s. Wrong. With. Me.” I shouted every word and pushed my finger as deep into his chest as it could go with each syllable. I wasn’t nearly as strong as he was, but I was still wearing my claw tipped gloves and I knew from previous arguments that they could penetrate his thick hide, at least a little bit. Too bad I couldn’t figure out how to penetrate his thick skull.

I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye and I knew that the others were watching the exchange. They were probably rooting for me, but all three of them were too cowardly to stand up to the overbearing oaf. Useless. Every single one of them was useless. “You’re all useless!” I yelled, turning toward where they were hiding at the end of the hallway.

“You take that back!” The big stupid one said. “We’re heroes! This city relies on us!”

“Well, it doesn’t rely on me any more. I quit!” I turned away from him and stormed into my room. I guess I forgot to slam the door behind me because he followed me in.

“You’re not quitting!” He shouted at me. “You’re part of this team… part of this family…”

That did it. He finally managed to push my last button. Our family had been destroyed years ago. Mom and dad were taken from us by the same stupid comet that made us into freaks of nature…

I guess that’s when I knew I couldn’t stand it any more. I’m not really sure what happened next, and Mike and the twins swear they didn’t see it either, but sometimes I see that look of satisfaction in their eyes that lets me know they’re cherishing something special when the topic comes up. All I know is that from that moment on, I was free of Hector’s overbearing crap and he had to go to the hospital to get that boot removed. Even though I can’t remember exactly what happened, I still feel all warm and fuzzy inside just thinking about it. There isn’t much that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside any more. Maybe the thought of a complicated job done well, or the feeling of landing a good solid punch on someone, you know, the shock of the impact traveling up your arm, the satisfying sound of flesh on flesh and the dumbfounded expression of a class ‘A’ jerk-off, who has just realized he got his ass kicked by a girl. That’s a warm fuzzy feeling right there.

All I know is that when it was over, I was standing outside the tower and Hector was being rushed to the emergency room. I stood there for a while trying to figure out what to do next. I knew what I didn’t want to do and that was: see, talk to or interact with the big jerk-off in way shape or form. I wasn’t a hero, I never wanted to be a hero, and just because I was a freak of nature didn’t mean I had some deep rooted obligation to become a hero. “With great power comes great responsibility?” I don’t think so. Maybe with great power comes green skin and a life full of ridicule and rejection. I cashed in a couple of favors and headed for the one place I was pretty sure Hector wouldn’t be able to follow me; Norway.

I never got there, of course. And the whole trip ended up being a harsh lesson in real life. You see, the people who were willing to help me without letting my idiot brother know where I’d gone, weren’t exactly upstanding citizens and I ended up stranded in the Yukon after one of the low-life scum tried to force me to have sex with him as payment for the lift. “A ride for a ride.” He leered at me, like it was clever or something. I’m not sure what he expected, but I’m guessing it wasn’t a plasma laced fist to the face. The worst part was that he caught me by surprise in the small space of the truck’s cab and managed to push me out, before I could do any real damage. And back then, I was still soft, I didn’t have the heart to torch his rig, so I let him drive a way with all my stuff while I just stood there blasting random shit until I got my mad out. Then I sat down on the side of that desolate highway and cried, like a little girl.

After a couple of hours, I realized no one else was going to come along. I’d been asleep in the truck until my would-be rapist woke me up and I had no idea how far I was from anywhere or how long it would take to reach some kind of civilization. I figured, I’d head in the direction we were going when he tossed me out for a few reasons. First, the bastard had to be heading somewhere. Second, maybe he’d still be there when I got there and we could continue our discussion, this time in a large open space where, hopefully, there would be lots of witnesses to see his humiliation. And finally, the sun was going down and I had to make it to Nova Scotia anyway, if I was going to get to Norway at all.

When the sun went down, I realized what a mistake I’d made. The temperature dropped pretty fast and I didn’t have anything to wrap up in to conserve warmth. Now, I’m fairly warm-blooded. Since that damned comet hit me, I’d only been cold once. I was accidentally locked in a freezer down at one of the fish processing plants by the lake. Some idiot calling himself the “Tug of War” made a bid to take control of the harbor and I chased him into the damn cooler, like an idiot. Sad part was, the teamsters handled the whole thing and we didn’t even need to show up. Hector got to talking with the press, trying to take credit for everything and forgot all about me until the next day. I didn’t have the kind of control over my plasma that I do now, I was still kind of limited in what I could do. Besides, Hector had pounded into my skull how we weren’t supposed to damage other people’s shit indiscriminately. Of course, he didn’t use the word ‘shit.’ I don’t think he would swear if you put a gun to his head. He also didn’t use the word ‘indiscriminately,’ he has trouble with words that contain more than three syllables. But the message was the same and I sat inside that damn freezer, trying to keep warm for about fourteen hours until the next day’s shift came on and someone unlocked the freezer from the outside. Even with how long I was in there, and how cold it was, it was nothing compared to being out in the open in the Yukon at night. I was pretty sure that this time I was going to freeze to death.

Luckily, I got attacked by a bear. Yeah, when was the last time you heard someone say they were lucky to get attacked by a bear? Anyway, the thing came out of nowhere and ran at me like a… well… like a great big bear coming out of nowhere and running at you. How much more descriptive do you need it to be? I reacted instinctively and hit it full on in the chest with a pretty powerful blast. Now, I’m used to being upset. I’ve lived my life up to this point in pretty much a constant state of pissed off, but this thing scared me and that did something to my plasma. It came out in an intensely hot focused beam and pretty much sliced the bear in half. And I looked down at these two halves of steaming bear and I realized it was steaming because it was warm. And I thought about the scene in “The Empire Strikes Back” where Luke climbs into the lizard-horse thing and stays warm. And I figure, if it’s good enough for Luke Skywalker, it’s good enough for me and I climb into the bear and it’s pretty much the most disgusting thing I’ve ever done. Mind you, I’ve done Hector’s laundry, and this was worse. Not a lot worse, but still, you get the picture.

And what do you know? It works! I actually managed to get some sleep too. Not too much, just dozed off a few times, but what the hell, sleep is sleep and when the sun came up I started following the road east again. About ten in the morning I hear an engine. I’m looking around until I see this SUV coming up from behind me and I start dancing around waving my arms like a lunatic, until I realize it’s an RCMP truck but then it’s too late. The thing screeches to a halt next to me and these two guys hop out all dressed up. Fur coats, big fuzzy hats, gloves, boots… you name it. Here I am, wearing a light jacket and jeans, tennis shoes and completely covered in dried bear guts… ‘Course I forgot about the bear guts until they both do a double take. One of ‘em kinda puts out his hand to ward me off while he reaches for something at his belt. At first I thought it was a gun, but then I remembered, the Canadians don’t believe in guns.

He starts jabbering into his radio while the other one approaches me like I’m some sort of ticking time bomb… which, I guess I was, even if I didn’t know it at the time. And he’s got this funny accent that makes it hard to understand him. “Wut yoo dooen oot here, ay?” Now two minutes ago, I’d’ a been willing to drop down on my knees and blow a busload of lumberjacks to get somewhere warm, but something about the way this guy is looking at me trips a circuit breaker in my head and I can’t stop myself from a sarcastic retort. “Trying to find Dudley Do Right. What are you doing oot here?” It was probably the “oot” that pushed him over the edge. Remember how I said the Canadians don’t believe in guns? Wrong! The RCMP boys are well armed, apparently, there are these great big bears wandering around all over the Yukon and they carry shotguns to protect themselves. Dudley Do Right grabs one out of his truck and points it at me. He starts spouting off about poachers killing bears and finding a bear corpse a few miles back that had been cut in half and mutilated and did I, (you remember me, the girl covered in bear guts) did I know anything about it.

And I’m thinking, “Yes, sir, Officer Opie. I can not tell a lie. I put that envelope underneath all that garbage…” but even with the sun shining, it’s damn cold and I’m covered in frozen bear guts and I just want to go somewhere warm and take a bath. So I try to tell him what happened and the bastard doesn’t believe me. I’m tempted to demonstrate my “weapon” on his SUV, but that probably won’t get me any closer to warmth or running water, so with super-human effort I zip my lip and allow myself to be herded into the back of the truck. Now, on the surface this might seem like an improvement, it being warm and all, but that’s before you take into consideration the fact that the warm air is defrosting the bear guts. And damn! I must a’ hit the things intestines or something, cause that was some rank-smelling bear leftovers. Fifteen minutes into the ride they had all the windows open. I wasn’t warm, but at least I was traveling a lot faster.

They dropped me off at an institution. There was a lot of discussion about whether the matron was going to accept custody of me in my current condition and eventually they solved it by having me strip down and hosing me off in the courtyard. Fortunately, by now it was early afternoon and the temperature was easily into double digits. And even though they’re measuring it in Celsius it’s still damn cold. But after the matron was satisfied that I wouldn’t stink up the place, she wrapped me up in a thick wool blanket and sent me into take a warm shower. Not the bath I wanted, but still not too bad. An hour later I was clean, warm and well fed and, even though I didn’t know it at the time, I was about to meet the woman who would change my life forever.

Chapter 2

Title: Green Suede Boots, Two: For the show

Chapter 2-

By the third day, the matron was pissed at me. I refused to tell her my name… my age… where I was from… anything. ‘Cause I was pretty sure that if they figured out who I was, they’d call Hector and he’d come and get me. And I'm thinking... I’m warm, I’m fed and Hector is nowhere in sight. Doesn’t matter if they lock my door at night, I’m free. Who wants to go to Norway any anyway? Not me. It wasn't a vacation though, they had us doing menial labor during the day... sewing stuff, making tea cozies and shit like that. I’m not sure if they were trying to make us pay for our keep or keep us too busy to fight each other. Some of the chicks in there were pretty scary. There was this one red head, tattoo of a fox’s head in silhouette completely surrounding her right eye, walked around with a sneer on her face, looking for someone to beat-up. Second day I was there I saw her break a girl’s nose for cutting in line at the mess hall. I stayed well clear of her. I wasn't looking for trouble. I was just trying to keep my head down and hoping they’d keep feeding me and they wouldn’t figure out who I was.

One day, I’d been there about a week, I was taking out the trash and I walked by the gym and that chick, everyone called her “Fox,” was working out. She was doing a defensive kata… well, I didn’t know what it was then, I just thought it was some kind of dance at first. Then I figured it was some kind of Karate. I didn’t know anything about martial arts, really. Just what I saw on Kung-Fu Theater and in Bruce Lee movies. I stopped to watch her, and I'm thinking, whatever she was doing, it’s pretty. She looks so graceful and elegant flowing around the room in this weird kind of dance. And I’m standing there, trying to reconcile in my mind the image of the bitch that struts around starting trouble for the hell of it with the image of this serene dancer when she notices me watching her and heads for me at full tilt. All of a sudden the sneer is back and she’s just as ugly as she usually is. Except now, she’s got me in her sights. My mind is racing about a hundred miles an hour trying to figure out how to get out of this one when something about the whole thing gives me that Déjà vu feeling. And I realize… she looks just like Hector. I don’t mean they look alike, I mean the way she’s acting reminds me of his same kind of overbearing “I’m bigger and stronger than you so I’m gonna make you do what I want” attitude. And in the back of my mind a little voice is nagging at me about how if I give in to this, it’s just trading one bully for another. So I drop the bag of trash and I put up my Dukes. And she stops cold. For a split second, I’m thinking I’m pretty impressive… until she starts laughing.

And I don’t mean a little chuckle. The bitch is doubled over holding her stomach, having a hard time breathing because she’s laughing so hard. At first, I’m relieved that she’s not going to attack me, but after a few minutes of watching her point feebly at me while wiping away tears of mirth, I’m starting to get pissed. She notices it and, if anything, laughs even harder. Now I’m really pissed and I go for her. No technique, just a mad rush and a scream of frustration. She side-steps me easily and trips me on the way by… still laughing. So I pop up and let her have a taste of plasma. I’m so upset that my aim is off and I end up missing her by a couple of feet, but I’ve got her attention now, and she’s not laughing any more. I start hurling plasma at her, alternating hands. The blasts are harder to control like that, but I can send a lot of them and at this point I’m seeing red and I just want to blast something, preferably something with red hair and an attitude problem. Who knew that was going to become the story of my life? She’s dancing around all over the place, doing flips, jumping off of the bleachers, using all the sports equipment in some kind of elusive ballet. I’m basically blowing shit up. I tag her once or twice, but she manages to avoid most of the blasts and when I do tag her, it’s a glancing blow. All of a sudden she does this confusing series of jumps and rolls and flips and ends up right next to me. Light explodes behind my eyes and I pass out.

I woke up in a truck. At first I was thinking the whole thing was a dream and I was still headed to Nova Scotia but my head hurt like hell and the first thing I saw was the tattooed red head leaning over me. She starts talking to me, all excited like, about how we’re going to be a team and we’ll be the most feared and respected mercenaries since the Sicilian Crowd. Like I said, my head was hurting like hell and I honestly didn’t know what she was talking about so I just nodded and tried to smile at the crazy woman who had apparently kidnapped me and broke me out of jail at the same time. I was afraid that she was just going to take me somewhere and kill me for using her as target practice, but it turns out, she wants to be rich. She wants to be really rich. And somehow, she figured that if we teamed up she could get that way faster. I still wasn’t thinking straight and I asked her if she’d show me how to dance like her. Then we were both confused, but we got it all straightened out before we reached Vancouver. She started teaching me martial arts and I started helping her with odd jobs.

Now, when I say “odd jobs,” I do mean odd jobs. To this day I have no idea why that particular government wanted those shapes in that wheat field, but they did. And we put ‘em there. Got paid damn good too. Fox was willing to take on anything. I was kind of in awe of her. She was so smart and sure of herself but at the same time, she was right on that razor’s edge between sane and completely gaga. She always knew exactly what she wanted and always had a plan to get it. Never let anyone take advantage of her… I guess I was kind of crushing on her in the beginning. I know I really wanted to be like her, at least the strong and independent part, the crazy part I could do without. She opened a whole new world for me. A world where women had control of their own lives and possession was ten-tenths. She showed me how to get what I wanted with a smile and an arched back and how to take a sucker and make 'em think you were doing them a favor. But most of all, she taught me the art of the heist. Most of what we did was heists. Usually it was some crazy collector who wanted a rare item that some other crazy collector wouldn’t sell so he'd hire us to steal it for him. Sometimes the other guy would hire us to steal it back. I remember we stole the same statue fourteen times. After the fourteenth time Fox decided she wanted the damn thing for herself and kept it. She’s still got it too, sitting right out in plain sight in the foyer of her house in Paris. I thought about swiping it from her the last time I was in France, but I was pretty busy… maybe next time.

After a couple of years of capers and training with Fox, I was a very accomplished thief. I was also a damn good fighter. But I was still pretty repressed, socially. My initial crush had turned into a secret torch that was tearing me up inside. She was as wild in her social life as she was in her professional life and always chided me for not enjoying myself as much as she did. I was always afraid that she’d turn her back on me if she figured out why I was so reserved when we went out. Looking back, that’s just one more thing that demonstrated my naiveté. But I think it was a good thing I never let on to her the way I felt. Turns out, she’ll pretty much screw anyone with a pulse. I’d ‘a been just one more link in a chain of one night stands. Instead, I became something more than a student but less than a partner and we had a lot of fun visiting far away countries and stealing their treasures. Even with the occasional long night in the middle of a muddy wheat field, that’s still the favorite time of my life. Odd as this sounds, there was a kind of innocence to it. I was young. Everything was new and it was all in fun, you know. No one got hurt and I never took any of it seriously. Then she decided to settle down in the states and start doing stunts on TV. It just about killed me. I don’t think she really understood how much I hated the idea of being famous and I know I didn’t understand why she wanted to be a star. But we both smiled and promised to keep in touch and said all the meaningless shit that you say when someone is ripping out your heart and throwing the pieces on the ground but you don’t want to let them know they’re killing you. She went on to become an international TV star and married one of the richest men in the world. And here I am, sitting here, spilling my guts out to you.

After we split up, I knocked around on my own for a while. You know, “cat burglar for hire,” that sort of thing. But too many people think that since you’re already breaking the law, they don’t have to pay you. It got tiresome having to beat the crap out of every third asshole who hired me for trying to double-cross me and half of the rest for insisting that my paycheck came with “benefits,” for them. But by that time I was pretty well heeled. I figured I’d head back home for a while. Maybe get a penthouse overlooking the lake and just lay low for a while, see where life takes me. Of course, I forgot that all the lake views included that stupid tower and that for several years I was a very public figure in town. Even after being away for five years and wearing full skin-tone make-up, people were giving me a second look all the time. Asking: “Do I know you?” and trying to figure out where they had last seen me. I got tired of it after about a week. One night, after a particularly inquisitive hot dog vendor pestered me for twenty minutes about whether or not I’d been at his cousin Esther’s Bat Mitzfah, I got the bright idea to put on my old cat suit, the one I used to wear when I was following my idiot brother around trying to be a superhero, and pull a job on the Museum of Modern Art. Turns out I’d grown up a little since then. Well, not so much “up” as “out” but it was painfully obvious that the thing needed some serious alterations before I could fit into it again. Then I started thinking about adding pouches to hold my tools… one thing led to another and the next thing I know, I’ve got a whole new outfit designed. One problem, I lack the necessary seamstress’ skills to turn my dream into reality.

It’s amazing what you can find on the internet. I started out looking for a discrete tailor and ended up, somehow, on Jack Hench’s website. I really hadn’t known that sort of thing existed. It’s like a wholesale warehouse for wannabe evil-doers. I spent hours going through all the listings for doomsday devices and various villainous services. Eventually I did find a tailor and when I called him I mentioned that I’d found his business through the HenchCo web site. I was hesitant to do it, I felt kind of silly. But he started gushing all over himself, offering me discounts and specials and so I made an appointment and went over the next day. I show him my sketches and he starts taking my measurements, asking me if I want wash and wear or dry-clean and he’s expounding on all the benefits of this fabric or that fabric and what kind of traps I think I’ll have to go up against and what kind of armaments my lair has and whether the Alien Brain will win “Villain of the Year” again... I had to stop him. “Look, Mac, I’m just a thief.” I told him. “I don’t have a lair or anything like that. I’m not planning on taking over the world.” I can tell he’s a little miffed. And I don’t think he believes me when I tell him I’ve never heard of the Alien Brain, but my money’s green so he finishes taking my measurements and gets my cell number… phone, not prison. I figure it’s over but while I’m driving home, he calls me up and tells me he can give me a good deal on piranha resistant fabric if I don’t mind pink. I won’t repeat that conversation word for word. Suffice to say when it was over he had agreed to make what I wanted and not try to foist any of his overstock off on to me.

The next week crawled by. I cased every art house and museum in the city, trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to steal. It had to be spectacular and it had to be something that’d really get under Hector’s skin. He was still doing the hero thing. None of the others were though. I was trying to remember how old the twins were when I left. I figure they’d be in college now and I considered looking them up and seeing if they wanted in on the caper. Odds are they’d be fed up with the officious jerk and wouldn’t mind tweaking him a little bit. In the end, I decided to go it on my own, that way I could claim full credit for whatever discomfort it caused him. I found my target on Wednesday. The Museum of History was hosting a display of priceless Egyptian artifacts and Hector gave a speech on TV about how Go City was the safest city in the country and no harm could befall the collection while it was under his watchful eye. There was a nice green and black Ahnk that caught my attention and I figured it would be funny as hell to just steal things that were black and green. Hector would never figure it out. And if someone else did, that would make it even funnier. I spent the next two days trying to come up with clues that I could drop at the scene to let everyone but Hector know what was going on. I never did start my green and black crime spree though, once more, circumstance intervened and I ended up going in a completely new direction.

When I got to the tailor’s to pick up my cat suit, there was this crazy blue guy already there. He’s going on and on about how hard it is to find good help and how the last person he hired to steal something for him ended up selling it to someone named Professor Dementor. The tailor’s being all sympathetic and understanding. I’m doing my best to keep a straight face and suddenly, the little bastard points at me and says; “She’s a thief, why don’t you hire her?” Well the blue guy looks over at me and sneers something about how he doesn’t want to send a girl to do a man’s job but he trails off in fear or awe. I’m not sure which, because at that point I’m pretty busy expressing my displeasure at being singled out to the tailor. It’s a fairly one sided conversation. And even though there’s very little said, I’m pretty sure he gets my point. As I was walking out, the blue guy chased after me and offered me a job. At first, I turned him down. He’s got a seriously whiney voice and I really don’t need to be stiffed by someone right now, but he was willing to put up cash, up front and the job was in Go City. I figured it'd still knock Hector's nose out of joint, so I thought, What the hell? Let’s see what happens. The guy’s name was Drew Lipsky but he preferred to be called, “Dr. Drakken.” I ask him; “Doctor of what?” but he just snarls and mumbles something about it being none of my business. “Whatever.” I said. “Give me the money and tell me what you want me to steal.”

Sometimes I really wish I had turned him down, because even though the next few years were a lot of fun, it all went to shit when I met the girl of my dreams. Yeah, I said “girl.” Of course, I didn’t know she was the girl of my dreams when I first met her. Didn’t really know that my Mr. Right would be a girl. But she showed up one day and the next thing I know she was there every time I turned around. Always in my face, always annoying and always frustrating. Then she started popping up in my head when she wasn’t even in the room… That’s when I knew I had a problem. You see, I’d already spent too much of my life carrying around a torch for someone who was unobtainable. And this girl was definitely unobtainable. I mean, even if she was gay, there’s no way she’d ever go for me.

[End notes:


Next TIme:
Three:  To get ready


Chapter 3

Title: Green Suede Boots, Three: For the Show


Chapter 3-

That first job I did for Dr. D went really well. It was a quick smash and grab; get the goods and get out before anyone else shows up. He was so happy with it that I swear I thought he was going to have an aneurysm. I left him to his celebration and went on my way, still planning on starting a green and black themed crime spree in Go City, just to wind Hector up to the point where he’d blow a fuse. But two days later Dr. D calls me and asks me to steal something else for him. It was in Cairo and I’d never been to Egypt. And since he was willing to pay for airfare and accommodations over and above my fee, I said “Sure.” That went well too. One thing led to another and I found myself pulling heists for the guy on a regular basis. Weird shit though, nothing really valuable, that I could see. Usually some kind of obscure technology that almost always blew up in his face about ten seconds after I put it in his hands. But he seemed happy with it and the money was good, so who was I to argue? Then one night he calls me out to the lair. It wasn’t a real lair. He couldn’t afford one yet. It was one of those time-shares that Jack Hench leases out over by the Middleton Airport. He was real mysterious over the phone, wouldn’t say anything, kept clearing his throat and cutting off his sentences. I was worried about it being a trap so I cased the place pretty good. You know, looking for cops, or you guys, laying in wait for me but it seemed all right. Still, I didn’t take any chances, snuck in through the ventilation duct to take a look before I showed myself.

Dr. D was down on the floor in the main part of the lair. Pacing back and forth, muttering to himself. I’d never seen the guy so nervous. He was wearing his good lab coat too. I couldn’t really hear him from where I was but I was catching snatches of phrases about being together for a long time and moving to the next level in our relationship. Mostly I was surprised. In the year I’d been doing jobs for the guy, he hadn’t made one pass at me. I mean, not even a sideways glance. I figured he was gay. And I know this is going to sound weird, but I kinda liked him. He was the brother I always wanted. The one who would cover my back and stand up for me. The one who would lie to the ‘rents or help me plan a major prank. The one I never had. I sat there for a little while trying to figure out a way to let the guy down easy and then it hit me. Why not give it a shot? He might be completely off his rocker, but he’s at least a decent guy where it counts. So I was feeling pretty good about myself and thinking I might have a shot at some kind of relationship. Yeah, I know. I think it just shows you how screwed up I was. Anyway, turns out he wasn’t proposing marriage or even going steady. At least not romantically. He starts going on and on about how I’m the first person who even pretends to listen to him and how he appreciates my skills and now he needs a full time helper if he’s going to get on with the next phase of his plan. Now, I can see a straight line when someone hands it to me, so I asked him what the next phase was. I’m sure it isn’t a surprise to you, but I was actually pretty shocked when he said “World Domination!”

It wasn’t just that he said it. 'cause he didn’t just say it. He made a whole production out of saying it. Dramatic pose… deep voice… arm flourishes… I couldn’t tell if it was the funniest thing I’d ever seen or the cutest. But he looked so earnest and enthusiastic... like a puppy who just brought in a slobbery wet mass of torn up newspaper... and I knew I couldn’t turn him down. We ordered in pizza and hammered out the details of the relationship. Mainly I was going to be his body guard /chief of acquisitions and occasional sounding board. I made sure that I wasn’t contractually obligated to actually listen to anything he said when he was ranting and that “other duties as assigned by the supervisor” didn’t include anything remotely domestic and that was the start of a beautiful relationship. He’d come up with fantastically elaborate schemes and I’d steal the stuff he needed to make them work. Of course his schemes never actually worked. He’s got an amazing mind but he’s too much a big picture kind of guy. Always misses out on the details. But I had a lot of fun that year and we developed a good rhythm together. I never minded that all his plots came to nothing and he never minded that I used him as a verbal punching bag. The only thing that bothered me was that we weren’t doing anything in Go City. I still had this thing about wanting to annoy Hector but Dr. D’s work never really brought us out there. I kept wearing the black and green cat-suit hoping that someone would put two and two together and bring it to his attention, but no one ever did. Other than that one little thing, life was good. Until you showed up out of nowhere and started talking about Kim Possible.

To be honest, I’d never heard of her. And I really could have done without the dramatics the first time you contacted me about the stuck up little princess. Let’s see… It was right after the Gardner Museum heist. I came back to the lair, the real lair… we could afford one by then, and walked into a damn ambush. There you were, Betty-freaking-Director, leaning against my dresser like it’s a credenza in your office at Global Justice with a cup of coffee in one hand and a file folder in the other. Stopped me cold in my tracks. My mind was racing about a million miles an hour. There was no way in hell anyone could have caught onto me that fast. I’d just got back from the damn job and I’d ‘a given some pretty stiff odds that they didn’t even know their shit was missing yet, so I’m trying to figure out why you're there and what you want from me while at the same time I’m going through a mental list of everything I need to take with me when I run, which is going to be in about half a second. Then you tell me to relax and call me by my name. Not Shego, my real name… That startled me enough that I stuck around for another few seconds. Then it started getting really weird. You told me you weren’t there to arrest me or even to stop Dr. D from taking over the world. I’m not stupid, if Dr. D was able to take over the world, he’d ‘a done it a long time ago, so I told you not to do me any favors and asked you what you wanted. Turns out, you've got your eye on this girl that you think has Global Justice potential. But she’s still a kid and she’s untested in any kind of real world situation. It looked like our paths were going to cross pretty soon and would I mind… get you… Would I mind evaluating the girl’s abilities and reporting back to Global Justice about what I think.

Oddly enough, you weren’t threatening me. In fact, when I asked what was in it for me and you showed me an envelope filled with cash, it shut me up pretty quick. I’d been expecting a shake down… you know, “work for me or go to jail.” or something along those lines. Cold hard cash is kind of hard for me to pass up. But I was still pretty skeptical about the whole situation and I tried to buy some time by telling you I’d have to think it over. You put the file on the dresser and the envelope on top of it and told me to take my time. You’d be back after I had a chance to meet the girl. Then you were gone, faded into the background like a ninja into a shadow, leaving the file, the envelope and the smell of burnt coffee behind. At that point, I figured I was either already captured or Scott free so I went over and counted the money. In it was the same amount that Dr. D paid me every month. Well, it was the amount he was supposed to pay me every month. Some months are a little slower than others. Next I checked out the folder. Even if I didn’t want to start working as a snitch for the head spook at GJ, getting a peek at who you wanted to recruit was going to be was a singular opportunity. I took one look and dropped the whole file into the incinerator. At first I was pissed. I headed out to find Dr. D and crack his head for scaring the living crap out of me. While I was looking I got to thinking that it was a pretty good joke. The whole thing with the Betty Director impersonator and the money and the file on the cheerleader was actually kind of a funny way to give me my pay check. It had to be a hoax. So, I decided I wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of knowing he'd fooled me. I just headed back to my rooms laughing a little at my gullibility and trying to think of some way to get back at him.

Only... a couple of weeks later I found out it wasn’t a joke at all. Dr. D had me steal some robo-nano-tick-thing and she showed up… at the lair... and she kicked my ass. Can you believe it? A cheerleader… showed up at the lair… my lair… and kicked my ass! Blew up the lair too, but at that point, who cares? I just got my ass kicked… By a cheerleader! And that means that Betty Director really did break into my room and ask me to work for her. And it means that this little cheerleader really is Betty Director’s heir apparent. And, most importantly, it means that Drakken still owes me last month’s pay. So now I was scared and pissed… a bad combination. I headed out to get some of my own back. I mopped the local high school hangout with the red head and got Dr. D’s nano-thingy back. Of course, it blew up as soon as he got his hands on it, but what could I do? Some things are just meant to be. It was a nervous couple of days for me after that. I kept looking over my shoulder wondering when you'd show up and demand your pound of flesh. Dr. D was in a deep funk. The thing that really pissed him off was that this cheerleader had never heard of him. He went around mumbling things like “How would you like it if I forgot your name?” and “I’ll show them both!” He said he was working on something big, but then he always said that. When you did finally show up, I just about jumped out of my skin. I was in the main lab, reading “Villain’s Weekly” and ignoring one of Dr. D’s rants when I glanced up and saw you standing in the doorway. Bold as brass and cajones to match, jerking your head toward the hallway.

As I followed you out, I thought about taking you down. But something in the way you cocked your eyebrow at me made me rethink that. You were too damn confident standing in the middle of my lair with no apparent back-up or weapons. You asked me what I thought of Kim. I pointed out that I'd never actually accepted your proposition. You pointed out that I’d already spent the money… I pointed out that I thought it had come from Dr. D… You pointed out that it didn’t matter if I thought it had come from the Doc or not, because how would it look to him if you walked in there and said you'd been paying me and claimed that I’d let you into the lair? It was a good point. I don’t think that Dr. D would have been too happy about that at all. He always said we were like a family. An evil family with a sinister goal, but a family none the less and if I strolled into the room arm in arm with some spook from GJ, he’d feel like I’d betrayed him. I’d feel that way too, even if I hadn’t. So I got you to promise that there was nothing else you wanted from me. I made you swear it. All I had to do was fight the cheerleader, and give an honest opinion about her skills. I didn’t even have to lay off of her, you know. I could go all out… well as all out as I wanted to, I don’t want to kill anyone.

After that meeting, it was easy to establish a kind of routine. Dr. D would come up with some hair-brained scheme. I’d steal the stuff he wanted. Kim Possible and her boyfriend would show up and stop us. Sometimes, she’d kick my ass, sometimes I’d kick her’s. Afterward, I’d make some excuse to Drakken and go meet you to debrief you on the kid. I never felt like I was betraying Dr. D. It’s not like I was undermining his schemes or sabotaging his efforts. I don’t know what would have happened if he had actually succeeded with one of them. But he never did, so the question is moot. After the first couple of fights, I realized I was up against it and I started studying the girl. She wasn’t really a master martial artist, but she had this amazing ability to improvise moves and combine different styles of attacks and defenses. I had a hard time matching her, never mind beating her. I started training harder… a lot harder. I had to if I wanted to keep up. I found myself anticipating the fights. They were… challenging… amazing, exhilarating… titillating… Damn! I loved fighting her. Everyday, I wanted to fight her. As time passed, it got to the point where I needed to fight her. Sometimes, if it seemed like Drakken was lagging behind on one of his projects, I’d give him a nudge or two to get him motivated. I constantly wanted to test out a new move or try a revised counter to something she’d thrown at me the last time. It just wasn’t a real caper until Kim showed up. And when she did… hot damn! What a blast!

I know what you’re thinking. But you couldn’t be more wrong. You still don’t get it, do you? Can’t really blame you, I didn’t get it myself until a couple of months ago. I was denying everything, pretending that it was all normal. Everything was just business and then that freak of an alien started whupping Kim’s ass all over Middleton and back. I’m pretty sure I didn’t make a conscious decision to step in but all of a sudden I found myself standing between them. Then Dr. D is looking at me with that kicked puppy face, like he hadn’t just tossed me aside for the Jolly Green Giantess, and I pop off some line about nobody killing Kimmie but me. I think he bought it. I think I even bought it. I’m pretty sure Kim bought it but you knew the truth as soon as I walked into the coffee shop, didn’t you? And when I saw your expression I couldn’t deny the truth either. You see? Well, maybe you don’t. The fights were never what was driving me. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a lot of respect and admiration for Kim. I loved testing my strength and abilities against her. She’s cute too. And even though I never did get the whole thing about her dating the buffoon, I never had a thing for her. Not only is she too young for me, cheerleaders bring back too many painful high school memories. Besides, Fox pretty much put me off red heads for the rest of my life. No, the real reason why I needed to fight Kim was because after I fought her, I had an excuse to spend time with you. And that night, when I walked in to the coffee shop… and you thanked me for helping her out and gave me a hug… I was… I was over the moon. The whole time we were talking, you were smiling at me. You were happy and it made me feel great to know that I’d done it. I’d made you happy. I couldn’t deny it any more. I was in love with you.

[End notes:


I worked pretty hard to be sneaky and misleading up to this point. I hope the twist I used was a surprise and that you found it entertaining and enjoyable. Because part of the fun of writing this for me was including this surprise, I ask that if you choose to leave a review (and I hope you do) please do not include any specific spoilers in it. 

Thank you,


Chapter 4

Title: Green Suede Boots, Four: Let's Go!

I know... it’s the oldest cliché in the book. “Criminal falls for hero... Details at eleven...” What a crock! I don't know when it happened. I don’t even know how it happened. I guess… I guess it was all those times we met. I know we talked about her most of the time, but what we talked about wasn't really important. It was the way you looked at me, like I was normal. You never treated me like a freak. I don't know how to get you to understand what a difference it makes when someone treats me like I'm normal. It’s so wonderful to be able to interact with someone without enduring all the snide remarks and looks of revulsion... or fear… people looking at me like I'm going to explode for no reason and start melting shit, just 'cause I can. But you never looked at me twice, never seemed to notice that I was green or that my hands glowed when I was excited or angry. The meetings with you were a time when I was truly human. I needed that time like I needed air. And I guess that's why I needed you. I think the first time I really thought about you and the possibility that I might... I could...

The first time I thought about it was right after Kim kicked me into that transmitter. You came to visit me in the prison medical ward. Do you remember? I was really nervous, because, for the first time since I'd been working for Dr. D, he almost did it. He almost took over the world. To this day, I'm not really sure what went wrong. Kim was devastated, the rat was locked up and if Ron can find his ass with both hands and a road map, I'll eat my hat. But something happened to get her out of her funk, she pulled it out and I'd never seen anything like it. Honestly, I was kind of in awe. That day, she grew up. And I could see for the first time why you thought she could do your job. And I figured... I figured it was all over. You wouldn't need anything else from me. You'd got what you wanted and you were probably going to lock Dr. D into a psyche ward ship me off to some impenetrable fortress never to be seen again.

But you didn't act the way I expected at all. You were concerned. You were kind. And I think that's when I started hoping. Hoping that you’d look at me or… I don’t know, really. I guess I was just hoping. I never admitted it, even to myself. Oh, I knew you were using me but, it seemed like you liked me too. You understood that I'm... that I need... you understood. Gahh! I can't believe I'm saying this. And it's all probably just another screwed up chapter in my screwed up life. Me thinking I'm in love with you because you treat me like a human instead of a freak. But you came in and you didn’t even ask about her. You were worried about me. You pestered the doctors to see if I was going to be all right. You brought me drinks when I needed them. You sat with me until I fell asleep. When I woke up I was confused. I really didn’t know what to do and then you came in and you were all business… Asking about Kim’s performance, taking notes, nothing to indicate you cared anything for me other than as a source of information. And it hurt. I got to thinking, maybe it was a dream. Maybe I only wished you’d been kind to me. Maybe my subconscious was playing tricks on me. I had to know. So I hacked into the prison security feed and I watched it. You really were there. You really were. I still didn’t allow myself to think about it though. I told myself I could use it. I was using you. I was going to get your sympathy and use it as my own personal “Get out of Jail Free” card. And I think I was doing a pretty good job convincing myself that I felt that way… until the day you thanked me for helping Kim and smiled at me. A real smile... for me... and I couldn’t lie to myself anymore.

Don’t close your eye! Where the hell is that ambulance? I called ‘em at least fifteen minutes ago. Oh, god! You’re so pale. You’ve lost too much blood. This bandage is soaked. Open your eye, Betty. Look at me… If you can hear me, squeeze my hand… Was that a twitch? Are you trying? You better be trying, Bets. This isn’t the way you die. Do you hear me? This isn't the way you die! You aren’t going to die because some drunken idiot got behind the wheel of his car. Gahh! Why did I insist on meeting you here tonight? We could have met over at Kenya Coffee, or Apollo’s. But no… I had to meet you tonight and it had to be here because I didn’t want to go all the way across town. Now you’re… No! Here they are! I hear ‘em. They’re here for you. They’re here, Betty! You…! Get the stretcher over here. She was hit by a truck! Asshole driver swerved across the median and hit her. I saw the whole thing. Yeah, I’m the one who called 9-1-1. I think her left leg is broken and she’s got a compound fracture on her arm. She’s lost a lot of blood. Yeah, it’s all her’s. She’s having trouble breathing too. Never mind why the damn truck is on fire, you take care of her! Goddamnit! This is your patient! That asshole can wait. Is she going to make it? Damnit! Tell me if she’s going to be O.K! You’re going to be O.K. Betty. What d’you mean I can’t ride with her? No, I’m not family. I’m… Damnit! Betty… I’ll visit you as soon as I can.

“Ms. Smith?”

Betty opened her eye and glanced around the room. She was in a hospital. She tried to speak, to ask where she was but her mouth was too dry. She licked her lips but there wasn’t enough moisture to make any difference. Someone on her blind side pressed something cold against her lips. Ice chips. She eagerly accepted as many as they would give.

“That’s enough for right now. Don’t swallow them, just suck on them and let the water roll down your throat.”

Betty followed the directions and the cool water that trickled down her throat was the most wonderful feeling in the world. The rest of her felt like death warmed over. She managed to turn and see her benefactor. A plump nurse with a red face smiled down at her. “Where…?”

“Middleton General. You’re a very special patient Ms. Smith.” The nurse beamed. “I’ve never had a patient with a bodyguard before. Police in and out, secret agents running around… caused quite a stir when you came in.” She paused to spoon a few more ice chips into Betty’s mouth. “There’s a whole platoon of people waiting just beyond that door to get a word with you. But I thought you’d like some time to get yourself together.”

She tried to talk again and, on the third attempt, managed to croak out, “How long have I been here?”

“Well, that’s not really important, is it?” The nurse’s cheerful reply died in her throat when she saw the expression on her patient’s face. The full affect of Dr. Director’s intimidating stare was mitigated only slightly by her fragile condition. Its intensity caught the nurse off guard. “We don’t usually tell patients how long they’ve been… I’m not supposed to… Ms. Smith… you’re being very…” Her flustered voice trailed off.

“Meaning I’ve been out for a while.” Betty continued grimly.

“You almost died, Ms. Smith. We had to induce a coma for… Oh! I’m not supposed to say any of this. That’s for your doctor to—“ She was interrupted by the opening of the door to her room. Agent Will Du strode in. “Nurse, you are dismissed.” The flustered woman wasted no time complying, but she did favor the stoic agent with a disapproving sniff as she hurried out. After the door closed behind her, Will subjected Betty to an intense scrutiny. “How are you feeling, Ma’am?” He asked formally.

“My mind is clear, Will. How long have I been out of it?”

“You’ve been in the hospital for ten days, two of those in an induced coma. This is the third day I have come to visit you this week. The other two visits were… unproductive.” At her raised eyebrow he shifted uncomfortably and cleared his throat. “You were heavily medicated.” He wouldn’t meet her eye.

“I’m Mrs. Smith…?”

“Easier to avoid the media, Ma’am.”

She nodded her acceptance. “What the hell happened to me?” She asked, settling back into her bed. “I feel like I got run over by a truck.”

For a split second the normally unflappable agent seemed to be at a loss for words. “You got run over by a truck, Ma’am.”

She looked up at him sharply. “If I didn’t know you better, I’d think you were making a joke. However…?” She let the question hang in the air between them.

“The operator of a heavy duty pick-up truck lost control of his vehicle and it struck you. He was found to be intoxicated. The police have him in custody.” He looked at her sharply, “Do you remember any thing about what happened to you?”

She closed her eye and tried to remember. “I was on my way to meet… an informant and…” A flash of green and black. She shook her head. “That’s it. I was on my way to meet an informant… I was crossing the street and…” A flash of green and black… Strong hands holding her head… “...I'm not sure.”

“You were struck while crossing Third Avenue. Witnesses say the driver lost control of his vehicle about ten yards from you and crossed the median on your blind side.” A dark look clouded his normally stoic features. “You wouldn't have heard anything out of the ordinary. He never even touched the brakes.”

“Witnesses?” A flash of green and black… Strong hands holding her head… Hot tears falling on her face…

“There were several witnesses... to the accident… and the events just after it.”

“Who was there, Will? What happened that you don’t want to talk about?” Strong hands holding her head… Hot tears falling on her face… An insistent, worried voice…

“It was Shego, Ma’am. She…”

An eruption of pain… A scream of rage… A flash of green light… The sound of screeching tires… “She…? What...? I don’t remember, Will. What happened?” Hot tears falling on her face… An insistent, worried voice… “Stay with me.”

Apparently, Shego witnessed the accident and…”

A scream of rage… A flash of green light… The sound of screeching tires… Glass shattering… metal groaning… Fists on flesh… Bones breaking… “She attacked the driver?” An insistent, worried voice… Stay with me… Listen to my voice…

Will looked a little startled. “Yes, she attacked the driver. And she—“

“Stayed with me until the paramedics arrived.” Stay with me… Listen to my voice… I was in my room… “It’s starting to come back to me, now. She… bandaged me up and held my head. I remember her talking to me, trying to keep me conscious.” And when I wound down, I took a deep breath and screamed some more...

“We were curious as to why she showed up.”

Until you showed up out of nowhere and started talking about Kim Possible. “She’s the informant I was on my way to meet.” The fights were never what was driving me… “Is the driver alive?”


“The driver of the truck, is he OK?” The fights were never what was driving me…

“Shego beat him severely, but he will live.”

And even though there’s very little said, I’m pretty sure he gets my point. “She…” Betty shook her head to clear it. “Where…?”

“She is still at large.” He managed to look embarrassed. “To tell the truth, Ma’am, we have not pursued her with much vigor. Global Justice's official stance is that the incident is a matter for the local police. And between her saving the world from that Wormonga creature last month and the evident reason for her attack on the driver… well, there has not been much enthusiasm for her apprehension.”

“I see.” A flash of green and black… Hot tears falling on her face… Strong hands holding her head…An insistent, worried voice… “Is there anything that requires my immediate attention?” No, the real reason why I needed to fight Kim was because... “Anything that...” the real reason why I needed to fight Kim was because... “Anything I...” I needed to fight Kim because after I fought her, I had an excuse to... “Anything…”

“Dr. Director…? Ma’am…?” There was concern in his voice.

I had an excuse to spend time with you... “What?” She snapped. I’ll visit you as soon as I can.

“You were drifting off, Ma’am. You should rest. I’ll come back and visit tomorrow.” A flash of green and black… Hot tears falling on her face… Strong hands holding her head…An insistent, worried voice… stay strong. Stay alive... I’ll visit you as soon as I can... Hot breath on her cheek followed by a brief caress of lips...

Betty closed her eye and shook her head. I couldn’t deny it any more… She was missing something important. You sat with me until I fell asleep. She fought to stay awake against the affects of her pain medication. An insistent, worried voice…Something important had happened and she needed to figure it out. You still don’t get it, do you...? Betty's fingers brushed her cheek and her frown of concentration eased into a brief smile as sleep finally took her.


[End notes:

This is the conclusion of this particular plot bunny. However, I have several ideas about where this can go and I think they are all interesting. When I get around to it, the next section of the story will probably be called “Give me one reason.”


Chapter 5

Title: Learning to Fly, One: Tongue Tied


To understand my motivation and why I asked you to meet me in this manner, we have to go back to a day about three weeks after my accident. It was a Wednesday. It was early evening. I had been poring over field reports with my top agents for nearly seven hours. The nurses were interrupting more and more often and their looks were becoming more baleful with each intrusion. Normally it wouldn’t have bothered me but I was still feeling quite weak from the accident and my eye was itching with fatigue. The lighting in a hospital room, while excellent for patient care, is unsuited to long stints of paperwork. And, though I had only been out of action for less than two weeks, there was still quite a bit of back-log to catch up on. I rubbed my temple, trying to stave off the eye-strain headache I could feel coming on and glanced over at my top field agent. “Let’s call it a day, Will.” He schooled his expression quickly but I could tell he was somewhat startled. My normal days are close to eighteen hours and I can, if the occasion requires it, go as long as seventy hours without sleep and still be performing at a high level. Unless, of course, I’ve recently been hit by an out of control truck. That seems to take a little of the wind from my sails. “I’m sorry, Will.” I said, trying to reassure him. “I’m still feeling the affects of the accident and I…”


“Any last minute instructions?” he interrupted me, standing abruptly. He had completely recovered his stoic demeanor.


I thought about it for a moment and told him, “Let Harrison know about the increased activity in Oman and get with Johnson over at the Bureau about the situation in Carlsbad. His people should be able to handle that without our help. Let’s pick this up at seven tomorrow morning.”


He consulted his PDA which is a sign that he was worried about offending me. Will never has to consult his PDA; the man has an impeccable memory. He had probably told me about an appointment he had the next day and was now trying to spare my feelings by acting like he needed to consult his schedule. “I have a meeting with the security chief at the space center tomorrow morning, Ma’am. The new delta wing is coming in Thursday.”


Even as he tried to spare my feelings, his disapproval of my memory lapse came through loud and clear. I couldn’t help myself and the phrase “pompous ass” crossed my mind briefly. “Right…” I said, a bit more brusquely than I intended. “…send Ken Triplicate over first thing. He and I will go through the daily minutia then you and I can pick this up in the afternoon.” He twitched. It wasn’t much of am twitch, but I saw the papers he was holding jump a little. I decided to let him off the hook. “Come by after lunch. I might have to order you to face certain death on a mission, but I’m not so cruel that I’d make you eat hospital food.” He started to respond but whatever he was going to say was lost when my doctor swept into the room.


“Mrs. Smith, I’ve told you several times this week. You need to rest your body or you’ll never heal.” The doctor said sternly as he began poking me and prodding me in what I’m sure was a deliberately painful manner. I opened my mouth to protest but as soon as I did, he shoved a thermometer in it and grabbed my wrist to take my pulse. The whole time, he muttered about arrogant patients who refuse to follow his advice and then have the temerity to complain about how long their recovery takes. Will waited patiently throughout this whole ordeal but the doctor pointedly ignored him and showed no sign of allowing him to get a word in edgewise. Finally, I just shrugged and nodded toward the door. No sense in antagonizing the doctor and anything that needed to be said could be included in the ten PM report. Will slipped out with what passed for an amused expression on his face.


I’m unsure of how you’re supposed to get any rest in a hospital. It seems as though as soon as you fall asleep or even get comfortable, at least two people barge in and start asking nosey questions and demanding bodily fluids. Occasionally, you hit the jackpot and every member of the medical staff on your floor comes into your room at the same time. As Will slipped out, I got mobbed. In addition to the doctor, there were three nurses and a member of the custodial staff all busy with some kind of equipment or routine test in a sort of controlled chaos that is more tiring than any number of hours spent poring over reports. I was trying, unsuccessfully, to block it all out when she walked in. I noticed her immediately, which is odd, given how much activity was going on in the room. But as soon as she cleared the door, I knew she was there. I briefly considered calling my security detail, but I knew she wasn’t a threat to me. It did puzzle me that I was so attuned to her and I tried to figure out what it was, exactly, that gave her away. It took me a minute, but I got it. Noise. She wasn’t making any. Everyone else was stomping around like a bunch of elephants. With my eye closed I could place everyone in the room to within a couple of inches. I doubt I would have had difficulty shooting any one of them without even looking. But she wasn’t making any noise at all and it immediately marked her. I placed her in the room by listening for the sounds of the blood pressure machine she was pushing. It gave her away on two levels. First, it made noise as she moved it around, even if she didn’t, and secondly, there was already one hooked up to my left arm.


As suddenly as everyone had crowded into my room, they all headed for the door. I lost her briefly in the chaos, but I was positive she hadn’t left. I looked around the room and picked out the two most likely hiding spots before I spoke up. “Hi, Elly.” I didn’t expect her to answer and she didn’t. “I’m not just guessing, you know.” I continued, staring intently at the place where I was certain she was hiding. “You came in with the extra blood pressure machine that’s against the wall between the bathroom and the main door…” Still nothing. I gave her about thirty seconds before I played my ace. “You’re behind the chair next to the window, Elly. Come on out.” I counted to thirty slowly. The background sounds of monitoring equipment seemed amplified. “Fine.” I said shortly, when she failed to show herself. “You’ve got ten seconds to come out or I’m going to signal the agents standing right outside the door.” I counted down silently in my mind until I reached; “Five… Four… Three… Two…”


“You’ve got to give me more than ten seconds, Bets. It’s kind of tight under here.” I was so surprised when her voice came from under the bed that I forgot to admonish her about using the short form of my name. She knows I don’t like being called “Bets.” I’m quite sure she does it just to get my goat.


“I… I didn’t think you could get under there without me noticing.” I managed to choke out.


“There isn’t a lot of room, but I couldn’t be sure they were going to dim the lights when I left so I…” Her voice trailed off and I was left wondering what she was going to say. I waited a moment but nothing else seemed to be forthcoming and there was no indication that she was even coming out.


“So you… what…?” Just as the words left my mouth, the door to my room opened and one of the interns walked in. I was kind of flustered and his name momentarily escaped me.


“Ma’am?” He was confused, looking around. “I thought I heard you say something.”


“Never mind that, what do you need?” I snapped. His name was Greg.


“Sorry to disturb you, Ma’am, but Agent Du asked me to give you this.” He held up a manila envelope.


I pointed to the desk and told him to leave it there. He hesitated after setting it down, still glancing around uneasily. “Is there anything else we can do for you?”


He needed reassurance “You can tell Lisa and the kids I said ‘Hi.’ And you can let me get some rest.” I gave him a big grin to soften the words.


A few seconds after the door closed the voice continued from under the bed. “So I figured I’d play it safe.”


“Come on out where I can see you, Elly.” She wasn’t the only one who could use a name to get under someone else’s skin.


“I wish you wouldn’t call me that.” Her words were accompanied by small scraping sounds as she moved out from under the bed.


“’Shego’ just seems so… childish.”


“And ‘Elly’ isn’t?”


“Well, I could use your full name…” I teased.


“’Elly’ will be just fine.” She hastily amended.


“I don’t understand why you don’t like your name. I think it suits you.”


“That’s part of the problem.” She pulled up the chair and turned it around so she could cross her arms on the back. “It’s absolutely perfect for me. I wonder how I’d have turned out if my name had been something normal like ‘Susan’ or ‘Laura.’”


“We’ll never know. I’d like to think we are more than just the culmination of our names, but that’s a discussion for another time, when I don’t have a splitting headache and I can concentrate on putting you in your place with my razor wit and spurious degree in pop psychology. What took you so long?”


She raised an eyebrow and shrugged. “I only got your message yesterday.”


“That’s not what I’m talking about. As they were loading me into the ambulance, you said… I remember it quite clearly… You said ‘I’ll visit you as soon as I can.’”




“It’s been three weeks.”


“You’re not an easy person to get in to see.” She said indifferently.


“You managed it just fine today.”


“Is that a little temper showing there Ms. Director? Could it be that you miss me?” Her voice was teasing, but there was a hint of tension in it.


“I’ve had a while to think about the accident…”


She interrupted me, “Besides, I’ve visited you twice already. You just don’t’ remember it.”




[End notes:

Next Time:


Chapter 6

Title: Learning to Fly, Two: Twisted


Shego interrupted me, “Besides, I’ve visited you twice already. You just don’t’ remember it.”


“…and I…” I stopped and looked at her. It sounded far-fetched. In the dim lighting it was hard to read her expression, but she didn’t look like she was joking.  No one on my staff would have allowed her in. And if she’d snuck in twice already, I really needed to do something about my security. “You’ve really been in here twice before?”


“That’s not important.  I’m here now and you’re awake this time.  So… what did you want to see me about?”


“No, this is important. If you came in to see me, I should know about it. Somebody should know about it” And they should have told me, I added to myself.


“Bets,” She shook her head, “you know that I’m not seen if I don’t want to be seen.”


I decided to ignore the familiar use of my name.  “What about right now?  You want to be seen now?”


“Who says I’ll be seen?  I’ll bet you a dollar that if you tell anyone I was here, they’ll look at you funny and up your meds.  If you really doubt that I snuck in to visit you before this, I’ll send you a copy of the security video. Your agents don’t have your talents. Speaking of which, what gave me away?”




Her head shot up. “What?  I didn’t make any noise!”




“That doesn’t make any sense. You’re still loopy from the drugs.”


“I’ll explain how I knew you were in the room, if you’ll tell me why you went so far out of your way to make sure I lived.”


“I didn’t do anything that anyone else wouldn’t have done.” She said guardedly.


“I saw the video, Elly.”


“What video?”


“The one where you bandaged up my wounds and kept me alive until the paramedics arrived.”


She looked at me suspiciously. “How…?”


“Commander Du is well trained and fully aware of your capabilities.  When he got word of your presence at the scene he made sure he had copies of all the surveillance videos of that street corner. It’s likely that he had them before I got to the hospital. Of course, by the time the local authorities got to them, you’d already done your bit.”


“What do you remember?”


Her tone was guarded and quite anxious. I wondered what she had to hide. I tried to answer casually. “Not much.  There was a lot of pain.  I remember a flash of green light and the sounds of a fight.  I think I remember you holding my head and crying…” I watched her closely while I said it.  Her expression never changed.  “I remember your voice, but I don’t really remember what you were talking about…”


She snorted. “Me either. You were losing a lot of blood and going into shock.  I was trying to keep you awake and focused. Probably started prattling on about my life’s story. There wasn’t a fight, though, just me whuppin’ some ass.”


She completely ignored the mention of her crying but I hadn’t expected anything else.  There was also a chance I had imagined it.  Her comment about “whuppin’ ass” reminded me of a conversation I’d had with the DA a couple of days earlier.  “They tell me the driver might not be able to walk again.”


Her eyes narrowed and her lips flattened into a thin line. “He’s lucky he’s still breathing.”


“You remember what we talked about after you got pardoned?” We’d gone through an entire litany of acceptable vs. unacceptable behavior and covered the fact that local law enforcement would be likely to gun for her, just because of her reputation.


“Is that why you asked me to drop by? So you could lecture me about going straight?”


She was closing down, cutting me off.  I tried once more to get through. “El, you can’t just cripple a man because he did something you don’t like.”


“He hurt m… He hurt you.” She said tightly.  I could tell she had started to say that he had hurt her.  It was an interesting slip, but I really had no idea what it meant.  “And I didn’t kill him. Under the circumstances, I think I showed an amazing amount of restraint.”


“I understand your point of view, but you have to consider how your actions will be interpreted by others.  You may have received a full pardon for your part in preventing the Lorwardian invasion but that doesn’t mean everyone loves you now.  Most of the governments out there still consider you a dangerous criminal and if you start acting the vigilante, they’ll turn on you in an instant. We have a pretty good justice system. You need to let it work.”


She crossed her arms and shook her head.  “That guy had three DUIs already…”


“You didn’t know that when you attacked him. And I’m trying to look at the big picture, not just this one event.”


“I saved your life!” She practically shouted.  “I brought justice to the man who put you in this bed.” She loomed over me and I could see the anger in her eyes.  I knew it wasn’t directed at me, but it was still intimidating. “Move your right arm for me.” Her eyes bored into me. “I’m waiting, Betty.  Move your right leg for me.” I couldn’t, of course and after about half a minute of charged silence she moved back and spat on the floor. “And you sit there and lecture me about vigilantes and the system?”


“El… Shego…” I reached out to her but she had her back to me.  Her next words were so soft I almost missed them.


“Betty, I don’t have a lot of friends. You may not think of me as your friend, but you’re about as close to a friend as I’ve ever had.  And when it comes to people who hurt my friend, there is no excuse, there is no hiding, there is no justice, there is just me.”


“But, you…” I let my voice trail off.  I was talking to an empty room. “Thank you.” I whispered, mentally cursing myself.  “How hard would it have been for you to say ‘Thank you for saving my life, Elly… El… Shego.’?” I muttered, “But, No, you had to screw it all up... And now you’re talking to yourself.”  I took a deep breath and picked up my laptop. It was difficult and awkward using only my left hand. Elly’s comment about moving my right arm haunted me. I navigated through the folders until I found the files I wanted and opened all three of them at the same time.  Each one showed a different view of the street where I’d been hit.  None of them was very good resolution so the details were difficult to make out.  I synchronized the time stamps and started them.  Here I was walking across the street. In one of them, I could only see part of my head. Another didn’t even have me in the picture, but showed Shego half a block away waiting for me outside the Café where we were supposed to meet. The third one clearly showed me walking across the street.  Shego saw what was happening before the truck entered the frame and she was running toward the corner at full speed when the truck blocked the camera’s view of the crosswalk.


The sight made me wince.  One frame I was there, walking. The next frame there was only a blurry picture of a truck taking up the entire screen.  The next frame held only and empty crosswalk. The long shot of the street showed Shego’s face contorted into a scream, Noooo!  Her arms moved in a throwing motion and the screen went white for a few seconds as her plasma flared. She had torched the truck.  Again, I tried to wrap my mind around this instant.  I paused the video and studied Shego’s face.  There was pain there, and fear.  It was almost as if she genuinely cared about me… I considered her parting comment: You may not think of me as your friend, but you’re about as close to a friend as I’ve ever had.  Could she have actually developed an emotional attachment to me…? A romantic attachment…? My medication was playing tricks with my mind.  I was too close to the situation and probably seeing things that just weren’t there. I turned my attention back to the screen that showed my broken body where it had landed after being struck.  The angle of my right leg and arm made me wince again as sympathetic pains shot through them.  Shego was at my side almost as soon as I stopped rolling.  I froze the picture again and studied it with as much detachment as I could muster.  The poor quality of the picture made it nearly impossible to identify the woman on the screen only by her face.  Shego also wasn’t wearing her traditional cat-suit.  Any expert would be hard pressed to make an identification from these videos. Of course, since she was at the scene when the paramedics arrived, it wouldn’t make any difference if she was identifiable from a security video. 


I started the feed once again and watched as Shego jumped up from my side and was absent from all of the videos for about three minutes.  The only indication of her presence was a fuzzy shadow that moved across the ground in a few frames, supposedly cast by the flames of the burning truck. Then she was back at my side administering first aid.  I stopped the playback and rewound to the point where I had been struck.  I closed out two of the windows and enlarged the picture of Shego screaming “No!” I was sure that I wasn’t imagining the emotion on Shego’s face.  And when it comes to people who hurt my friend… She had developed some kind of attachment to me.  But what kind and how deep did it go?  She had said “friend,” not “friends.”  I grabbed onto that slim thread. That was it! Shego didn’t have any close friends. That was why the emotion on her face was so powerful. Somehow, over the last few years during the course of our regular meetings about the Possible girl, Shego had come to consider me as a friend. I pondered the implications of that for a while. We had been meeting regularly over the last four years.  And it was true that our "debriefing" sessions had become informal, perhaps even chatty.  We did tend to share some more personal things, things not strictly related to work.  I actually had developed quite a fondness for our meetings, and I found Shego to be entertaining.  But the concept that she thought of me as a friend... Briefly, I wondered what it must be like to feel so lonely that a cup of coffee with an enemy, someone who acts contrary to everything you hold dear, someone who wouldn’t hesitate to put you in jail for twenty years under different circumstances, would be an event to look forward to and cherish… “She must feel…” my train of thought stopped as a cold realization hit me.  I didn’t get to where I am today by denying the facts.  And at that point I had to admit, “She must feel a lot like me.”  Hesitantly, I reached out my good hand to touch the frozen image on the screen,



[End notes: Next Time:

Chapter 7

Title: Learning to Fly, Three: Earthbound

They say that everyone has a defining moment in her life. A point in time that she can look back on and say: “That’s when it all changed. That moment divides my life into before and after. That is the event that made me who I am today.” And I’m not going to argue with that but, in twenty-nine years, I had never experienced it. The moment that defined the shape of my life came early, very early. In fact, my “defining moment” occurred before I was even born. Three minutes and fifty-six seconds before I was born to be precise. You see, I was born late… although “late” may not be the right word. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say… behind. Yes… I was born three minutes and fifty-six seconds “behind” my twin brother. And that simple truth dominated my life. You might think that losing an eye would be a more important event than being born second. Possibly, being the youngest person ever appointed as director of Global Justice would be a more pivotal event than one I can’t even remember. But neither of those things would have happened if I had been born first. That four-minute deficit spurred me to attack every goal more vigorously than I otherwise might have. I realize that it doesn’t seem like a long time and there are very few things that a girl can accomplish in just under four minutes. But my brother got that much of a head start on me and I was never able to catch up. So the defining moment of the first twenty-nine years of my life came three minutes and fifty-six seconds before I was born. It wasn’t until five weeks after a drunk driver ran me down that I consciously experienced a defining moment.


It was a Tuesday. It was late morning. I was in my hospital room. I was recovering from, yet another, surgery and trying to catch up on the daily reports that seemed to spontaneously generate exponentially when I was indisposed. Will entered the room with Shego in tow. I pretended not to notice the way she reacted when she got a good look at me. I knew my appearance was less than optimal, and I was used to people’s reactions by then. Every time someone looked away to hide his or her discomfort or let out an involuntary gasp, it only strengthened my resolve to make a full recovery. I was mildly surprised that she was wearing her trademark black and green cat-suit but it was the way she moved that caused me to take a second look at them. It was obvious from her hunched posture and shuffling gait that she was shackled. The strength of my emotional reaction startled me. “What the hell is she doing in shackles?” The words burst unthinking from my mouth. I was set to dress down Commander Du for subverting my orders when I realized the restraints were made of colored construction paper. I got my emotions in check. “Paper…?” I asked, glancing back and forth between them. Shego had recovered control of her expression and now radiated an amused defiance. Will favored me with a cocked eyebrow and the slight shrug that he reserved to express his distaste for what he referred to as “Mad Genius Antics.” I waited what I considered an appropriate amount of time for one of them to offer an explanation, about half a second, before I demanded one. “Commander Du… Explain.”


He fell into parade rest and began speaking in his usual clipped tones. “I intercepted Shego at the Middleton airport and extended your invitation, as you requested. She indicated that she was…” He consulted his PDA, “‘…disinclined to acquiesce to my request.’ I explained that you were most anxious to speak with her and she still refused to accompany me. As a last resort, I informed her of the presence of a full squadron of Global Justice Peace-keepers who would be more than happy to see to it that she comply with your wishes. She then asked me if she was being arrested. I assured her that she was not under arrest, but after I confirmed that she really had no choice but to come with me, she insisted that I…” The agent glanced at his PDA again. “‘...advise her of her rights under the Miranda Act and shackle her like the prisoner she is.’” I was watching Shego closely and I could see the amusement dancing behind her eyes. She was really enjoying winding him up. With some difficulty, I controlled my own desire to giggle and listened to the rest of Will’s report with a straight face. “When I refused, she fashioned chains and shackles out of paper and has since refused to perform any function that would compromise their integrity.”


“Mr. Bond here wouldn’t spoon feed me. I’m pretty sure that constitutes cruel and unusual treatment.”


I could see that Will was torn between exiting the room as soon as possible and sticking around on the off chance that he’d get to punch Shego. I decided to make it easy for him. “Thank you, Commander. You may go.”


“Are you sure, Ma’am? She is still dangerous and you are not fully recovered.” The stoic agent was the master of understatement.


I gave him my “you just stepped over the line” look and coldly said, “I am well aware of both her capabilities and my limitations. You may go, now.”


A tinge of red showed at his collar. “Yes, Ma’am.”


When the door closed behind him, I focused on Shego. She wouldn’t meet my gaze. “I'm surprised at you, Elly.” I said, teasingly. “You're more than a match for one squadron of Peace-Keepers.”


She shrugged. “Hey, I've got enough problems with the assault charges your drunk-driving boyfriend is leveling at me. My lawyer advised me not to kill any cops or burn down any airports before the trial.” She feigned nonchalance and pretended to examine her nails. “Also, since you're interfering with the successful completion of my current contract with TBS, I'm going to hold you personally responsible for my failure to complete and sue Global Justice for lost income, mental anguish and actions detrimental to my public image.”


I almost laughed out loud. “What kind of actions could I take that would be detrimental to the public image of a convicted felon?”


“I got a full pardon, Bets. And I've never failed to fulfill a contract.” She knows I hate that form of my name, but since I had just called her a felon, I let it slide. “Besides,” She continued, the twinkle in her green eyes at odds with the persecuted tone of her voice. “It's so nerve wracking being dragged in to see you in shackles... and I haven't even been formally charged.”


“Jury might have a hard time making that stick. Seeing as how you’ve admitted to sneaking in to visit me three times all ready.”


“Riiiiiiight... I’ve heard that Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome often manifests as hallucinatory episodes.”


This time I did laugh. “OK, I'll bite. With what contract at TBS am I interfering? Are you going to be appearing on Wrestlemaniac twenty?”


She smiled. “Right concept, wrong TBS. It just so happens, that your lap dog pulled me out of line for my flight to Tokyo. I've been invited to compete in the Sasuke competition next month.”


“Saw soo what?”


“Ninja Warrior.”


“The Japanese obstacle course game show?”


“Yeah, I was getting ready to board the plane when Bond-James-Bond pulled me out of line.” Her smiled turned decidedly sinister. “In front of a TBS film crew, I might add.”


“Then TBS would be ‘Tokyo Broadcast System.’” I said. She nodded and I went on, “They were filming your background piece for the human interest part of the show.” She nodded again. “And that’s why you’re wearing the ‘Team Go’ outfit.” I felt a headache coming on again. Having footage of one of my agents arresting a citizen for no reason, even one as notorious as Shego wasn’t going to go over well at the next budget oversight committee meeting. I sighed and gestured to her mock chains, “You really can take those off, you know. You aren’t a prisoner. Commander Du overstepped his authority when he threatened to bring you in by force. He’s a good man, but a little bit too literal minded.” She was looking at me through narrowed eyes. I could almost see her thoughts. My current frailty was reflected in her expression. It was another confirmation of what I already knew. Even though my mind was clear, my body was in pretty bad shape. Finally, she tore off the paper bands encircling her wrist and ankles and dropped them into a trashcan. And with a look I couldn’t interpret, she headed toward the door.


I found that I really didn’t want the meeting to end. I called out, “Aren’t you even going to ask why I wanted to see you?”


She didn't even pause. “Nope.” she said brightly and opened the door. “Hey! Lunkhead! Yeah, you. Get me a nice comfortable chair out of the visitor's lounge and bring it in here... Don't look at him; he can't melt your steroid filled ass by pointing a finger at you. I can. So... big comfy chair... chop-chop!” She started back into the room but suddenly turned back to the door. “And food!” She shouted at the retreating guard. “Bring me some food too!” She closed the door and turned back toward me. “I hope he heard that last part. I'm hungry. I can't eat before I get on an airplane that someone else is driving. I get too nervous and my stomach goes all... close your mouth, Bets. It's not ladylike to go around showing people your tonsils.”


I looked at her in confusion. Perhaps my mind wasn’t as clear as I thought. “I thought you said you didn’t want to know...”


“I did, and I don’t.” She walked around the room examining the various pieces of equipment occasionally spinning dials and flipping switches. “I really couldn’t care less why you wanted to see me. I'm just going to hang out in here and bug the hell out of you until you put me on a private flight to Japan or loan me one of your Raptors. By the way…” She shot me a sinister smile. “I told my assistant to call my lawyer as soon as Mr. Bond nicked me. I figure it'll take about an hour for him to get my lawyer, gather up the TBS crew and show up outside your door... Mrs. Smith.”


When she locked eyes with me, her grin filled her entire face. It was a pretty good threat. While it would be inconvenient for me if the press got wind of my location, it wouldn’t cause me too much discomfort. However, the increased security that would be required to filter out all the hoopla that would come from it would probably interfere with the hospital’s normal functions. Since most of my people came to this hospital when they needed serious medical attention, I didn’t really want to cause them any unnecessary headaches. That meant I had to avoid bringing the circus to town. I decided to pull out the big guns. “Was that a threat…? Elvira!”


[End notes:

Next Time:

Reaching Out


Chapter 8

Title: Learning to Fly, Four: Reaching Out

At the sound of her given name, Shego’s grin faded.  “You wouldn't!”


“In a heartbeat, El.” It was my turn for a smirk. I let her twist in the wind for a minute before I offered her a way out. “But I only get chatty in front of television cameras...”


“Touche!” She grimaced. “How about a chartered flight and I call off the media.”




“First Class.”


“OK, but I’m putting you on a red eye.  And you’re having dinner with me before you go.”


“I do declare, Ms. Director.  Aren't we forward?” She pretended indignation and fanned herself vigorously. “What makes you think I'm that kind of girl?”


“Can the theatrics, Scarlett. I never got a chance to say thank you...”


“Money is a great way to show gratitude.”


“I don’t want to just pay you off, I want a chance to sit down with you and--”


Her face shut down and she turned away from me. “I'd prefer money.”


What had I said?  I went over the conversation in my mind but I couldn’t put my finger on anything that would have upset her.  “What's going on, El?” She wouldn't meet my eye. It had to have something to do with the night of the accident.  I plunged forward, fishing for a clue. “Look, I know you said something to me that night.  Something important, but I don't remember it. The whole night is a big blur and I'm still trying to sort it out.” She just stood there with her back to me, staring out of the window. “It might help if I knew what was bothering you.” I could see the tension outlined in her shoulders as she fought some kind of internal battle with herself. I wondered what she could have said or done that would create this much tension.  It took all my self control to sit quietly while she decided whether or not to open up to me.  After several minutes of silence, she turned to speak but the door burst open and one of the attending agents stumbled into the room carrying an enormous overstuffed chair. 


“Where do you want this, Ma'am?”


I had to smile as I watched her mentally cross off the first three things that came to her mind.  I’m fairly sure they were the same things that came into my mind. “Put it down right over there... No, by the window.” She grabbed the white Styrofoam box that was sitting on top of the chair as he carried it by.  Opening it up, she wrinkled her nose and rounded on him. “Where'd you get this crap? You go digging in the dumpsters?  I said 'food.'” By the time she turned back to me, all traces of the tension were gone, hidden behind her public face.  She jerked her head toward the door “If you didn’t look like death warmed over, I’d bust your sorry ass out of this joint so you could buy me a decent dinner.  I guess I’ll just have to order in and make you pay for it.” There was still a little tremor in her voice, but she obviously preferred to act like nothing was bothering her, so I let it go. She pulled out a cell phone and began scrolling through her saved numbers.


“Hey, you’re not supposed to use your cell in the…” 


The look she gave me was priceless.  “Hel-lo-o…! Evil… Doy?”


“Right… nevermind.”


“While we’re waiting, you can arrange for my first class ticket to Narita.  I'm going to ply you with wine and song and when your defenses are down, I'm going to talk you into testifying as a character witness at my trail.”


“You want me to testify about what an upstanding citizen you are, so you’re going to get me drunk and try to take advantage of my good nature? You have a twisted sense of morality, El.”


“Again… Evil… I don’t have any sense of morality.”


“You’re pronouncing it wrong, dear; it’s not ‘Evil.’ It’s ‘Elv—‘”


“Finish that sentence and I won’t order any desert for you.” 


I considered pushing it.  Bantering with Elly is a great way to exercise your mind and show off your vocabulary.  But I could see she was still a little tense and it might get intense. I didn’t feel up to a full on Battle Royale of the wits.  So rather than go in with a disadvantage and get my preverbial derriere handed to me on a silver platter, I decided to concede before it even started.  “I was going to say ‘Elvis.’” I’m pretty sure she wasn’t buying it, but she didn’t push it either.  I made the necessary calls to get her booked on a red-eye to Narita while she negotiated with the medical staff about dinner, tried to negotiate, anyway. The woman, who could scare one of my security details into playing fetch for her, couldn’t get the nurses to budge one inch on hospital regulations.  As I watched the head nurse deftly handle everything Shego threw at her, I thought about GJ’s scouting policies and made a mental note to start actively recruiting from medical schools.  They even confiscated the bottle of wine she smuggled in.  Of course, she had a flask secreted somewhere else and maintained that the bottle had been a diversionary tactic. 


Dinner, from the onsite cafeteria, proved to be both awkward and comforting.  I was still having trouble using my left hand for everything and I often found myself trying to reach for something or make adjustments with the mangled remains of my right arm.  Shego kept up a running commentary on everything from current presidential policy to the results of recent sporting events.  All interspersed with her trademark sarcasm and dry wit.  A couple of times I noticed her start to reach out to assist me and stop herself.  I was torn between a desire to show that I was better off than I looked and wanting to just collapse into a puddle of jelly and have someone baby me.  The whole thing was very tiring but interacting with someone who was treating me normally was so nice I was reluctant to let it end. Dinner was interrupted occasionally by members of my staff who needed a decision and regularly by members of the medical staff who needed to run a test or administer medication.  It was during one of these interruptions that I noticed her glancing furtively at the scaffolding of struts and wires encasing my right leg and what remained of my right hand.  After each interruption, she seemed a little bit more subdued. Finally, she stopped pretending that she wasn’t looking and just stared at me. “What’s wrong?  Did I grow a third head?” I asked, trying to project cheerfulness.


She fumbled around for a few seconds, opening and closing her mouth, trying to find something encouraging to say.  Then she blinked a couple times and looked even more confused. “Don’t you mean ‘a second head’?”  She managed to blurt out.


I was suddenly very tired and I wanted… no, I needed to know what was going on.  I needed to know what she had said to me and why it was so important. I didn’t want to play any more games; I didn’t have the energy for them. “Elly, something is bothering you… and I’m not talking about me being hurt.” She stared out the window… at the floor… at the monitors… everywhere but me. “Please tell me what’s wrong.”


“What do you remember about the accident?” She asked quietly.  She still wouldn’t look at me.


I thought about it for a minute.  I was definitely still missing something.  The only thing I could come up with was that she had made some kind of confession and it weighed heavily on her mind. There was a small part of me that was very worried.  What if she had confessed to a heinous crime and was just waiting to find out whether or not I remembered it? Was she sitting across from me coldly calculating whether she needed to kill me?  I knew I was overtired, she wasn’t a killer.  Still, I answered carefully, “Mostly, I remember pain. I remember lying on my back. I remember you holding my head... You were talking.” I kept my eye on her face, searching for some kind of hint.  Her expression was anxious and somehow hopeful. “I remember bits and pieces of it... You were in a Canadian jail at one point... And I think you told me that you made crop circles with Fox Zanatos… But it’s all jumbled up, like a bad dream.”  I sighed.  “I honestly don’t know if any of the stuff I remember actually happened or not.  I do remember what you said when you snuck in here last week, though.”  She cocked an eyebrow at me.  I smiled. “I mean… I remember what you would have said to me if you had snuck in here last week.” I held her eyes. “And I think of you as my friend too.”  Her eyes dilated slightly, I plunged on, wishing I knew what that meant. “This might sound arrogant, but there aren’t a lot of people in my weight class.  Most of the people I meet are intimidated by me and all of them want to use me for some reason or another. I always looked forward to our debriefing sessions and I’m a little bit disappointed that I no longer have Ms. Possible’s progress reports as an excuse to meet you for coffee.” She relaxed slightly. “But don’t think that because I enjoyed our little chats I’m soft. Don’t think I won’t drag your sorry carcass kicking and screaming to justice if you cross the line on my watch.” 


“Ha! You’ll have to catch me first.  And I don’t think any of your little lap dogs has what it takes to keep up with me.”  Some of her fire had returned, I think it was the first time she’d fully relaxed since she came into the room.


“Then I’ll have to do it myself.”


She looked at me and the shock showed in her face momentarily. She studied me frankly. She didn’t even try to hide her worry.  “You really think you can come back from this, Betty?”  She wasn’t being mean.  She wasn’t trying to motivate me.  She was just asking me to be honest with her and with myself.


Tired as I was, I gathered up my energy reserves and growled, “You bet your green ass!” It would have been a lot more convincing if I hadn’t started coughing as soon as I finished saying it.


Her next words stunned me. “Want some help?” 


Suddenly, I wasn’t tired at all.

[End notes:

Next Time:
Friends like These


Chapter 9

Title: Learning to FLy, five: Friends Like These


Initially, judging my progress was difficult for me. The doctors varied widely in their assessments of the extent of my injuries and the possibilities of my recovery. Through the use of advanced micro-surgery techniques and experimental nerve regeneration, my shattered hip and pelvis were rebuilt and the nerve damage in my leg was repaired. I was fit to begin therapy to build muscle mass and strength in the leg in about six weeks. When the PT first visited me, he gave me a speech about how much I would come to dislike him and how it was normal. But he was going to push me and together we would recover as much strength and movement as could possibly be recovered. I dismissed his talk as hyperbole. I believed that I understood the dynamics of interaction and that I understood the pain involved in recovery. I had decided to approach the physical therapy as if it were a mission. I would remain professional, detached and above all, focused on the objective. Nothing this man could say or do to me would create an atmosphere of intense emotion. I received support and encouragement from many of my colleagues. Often, this encouragement took the form of an invitation to engage in some kind of strenuous activity a few months down the road… Keep your mind out of the gutter. Things like, rock climbing, hiking and mountain biking. I cheerfully accepted every one. Shego’s form of encouragement differed considerably from the norm. I’m not entirely sure it could be classified as encouragement. It involved starting a pool to determine the date I would order the execution of my physical therapist. When confronted, she alternately claimed that she was: a) Doing it as a way to scam money from GJ agents; b) Doing it to show me how ruthless my underlings thought I was; and, c) Loudly proclaiming her innocence and pretending that she was outraged that I would even accuse her of doing anything like it. In the end I did manage to surreptitiously put down twenty dollars that I’d be able get through the whole rehabilitation process without losing my temper. As it turned out, I should have put that money down on a date only three weeks away.


By the end of my third session, I had developed an intense distaste for Reggie. By the end of the third week, much to my dismay and Shego’s amusement, I actually ordered his arrest and confinement. I was only half joking. Fortunately agent Possible was on hand when the missive came through and was able to convince the other agents on duty that it was meant in jest. That was the only time I really lost my head, but from then on, it did seem like most of my amusement came from trying to figure out a way to justify using Global Justice’s considerable resources to have him killed. To this day I’m not sure I would have been able to restrain myself without Elly there to offer helpful suggestions (I still break into giggles every time I see a green caterpillar.) or poke holes in my plans. (I know NASA would never let me use the Space Shuttle for a personal vendetta, but I’m fairly certain I could have accomplished it without anyone there figuring out what was really going on.) She managed to swing by to see me a couple times a week; usually when I was attempting some difficult physio-therapy. She never coddled me or tried to spare my feelings. It was a refreshing change from most of my visitors who either treated me like a complete invalid or pretended that there was nothing wrong. Mostly she entertained me with stories of her recent escapades. Her first attempt to conquer Mt Midoriami had not gone quite as planned. She finished the first stage in record time but the judges disqualified her because her hair touched the water. She felt like she’d been unfairly barred from going on to the next stage and expressed her displeasure by incinerating the judges’ pavilion. My first belly laugh since the accident came as she described the look on the faces of the arresting officers when Mr. Tanaka, the president of the Tokyo Broadcasting System, showed up at the police station and claimed that the whole thing had been pre-arranged and she had been hired specifically to carry out that action as a way to boost ratings.


In spite of (or perhaps because of) my adversarial relationship with the PT, the restoration of muscle mass and tone in my leg actually proceeded at a faster pace than anyone had thought possible. I found that I was able to better understand Elly and the use of rage as a motivational force. My hand was a different matter. I had lost my thumb, the first two fingers and a significant portion of my palm. What prostheses that were generally available were heavy, awkward, difficult to use and painful to boot. But I was somehow able to delude myself that I would recover the use of my hand too. I managed to maintain that self-deception for about six months after the accident, until the day of Shego’s trial. The drunk driver was suing her and I had been called in to testify. I don’t remember what question the lawyer asked me, but something clicked over in my mind and I finally admitted to my conscious mind what I had known all along; nothing that happened in that court room could truly benefit me. I was never going to get my hand back. Even if the judge gave Shego a medal and sentenced my assailant to death, it wouldn’t restore my hand. I was going to be crippled for the rest of my life and I was devastated. I honestly don’t remember anything else that happened while I was on the stand. I just remember feeling completely helpless. I was vaguely aware of being escorted to a private waiting room. I was emotionally spent and feeling the weight of my situation far more than I had in the weeks leading up to the trial. I broke down and cried in self pity.


Salvation came from the most unexpected place. I heard the door to the little room open and close softly and I was startled out of my misery by the last voice in the world I had expected to hear saying the last three words I wanted to hear.


“Hello, little sister.”


But this time, those words that I hated so much were filled with sorrow and compassion, and they filled my body with a warmth that only moments ago I would never have believed I could feel again. I threw myself into my brother’s embrace and wept. He didn’t say another word. He held me and gently rocked me. And when I had cried myself out, I asked him why he had come. His answer was to hold up his own artificial hand. It seemed he’d spent the time since the accident tracking down the man who had built his hand and convincing him to come out of retirement to build one for me. To say I was bewildered would be an understatement worthy of Will Du. But the emotional shocks were not over. Shel talked at length about how he had always felt responsible for the accident that took my eye. Never mind that I had been more eager than he to fire the rocket. Never mind that I had insisted that I be allowed to do all the prep work. Never mind that it had taken his eye as well. He really took his role as my big brother seriously and for the rest of the time we lived at home, he’d been trying to atone for what he perceived as his failure. It was another paradigm shift for me. It was as though I had been looking at pictures of a sunrise and suddenly I was seeing the real thing and I could understand what the artist was trying to do for the first time. He wanted to protect me and I had never let him. And by the time he understood that trying so hard to shelter me was driving a wedge between us, it was too late.


Don’t look at me like that. I’m not talking about the WEE thing. By the time we got to that point it was already out of our control. Suffice to say that it all followed a logical progression… I guess you had to be there. The upshot to all this is that if I had been less pig-headed and he had been less overbearing we probably wouldn’t have ended up where we are today. Sadly, it took a life threatening trauma and a debilitating injury for me to reach a place where I could see that.


He got the idea of offering me a replacement hand as soon as he knew what had happened. He had hoped to show up within a couple weeks and surprise me, but he had a hard time tracking his guy down. I believe it was for the best. If he had showed up sooner, I probably would have snubbed him. As it was, I was very tempted to take him up on it, but I just couldn’t accept. As the head of Global Justice I had to maintain some kind of decorum. I was already associating with an ex-felon far more than was advisable and no one in the intelligence community would see that I had been helped by my brother. All anyone would see is that the head of GJ had accepted a bribe from the head of WEE. Besides, the might and technology of Global Justice would able produce something just as good without the appearance of being in debt to a villain. I was counting on it. Surely the powers that govern our organization would not begrudge me, their most faithful servant, a replacement hand. But the days turned into weeks and the weeks into months and always there was a delay at some level. Always, there was some form that had been lost or improperly filled in. Time after time I walked out of consultations without any hand or any promise of a hand. I strove to restore my body. I pushed myself to new levels. I was stronger, faster and more fit than I had been before my accident, than I had ever been but I was still a cripple.


More often than not, when it became too difficult to bear, I turned to Elly for comfort and cheering up. She was able to reduce the objects of my ire to insignificance with a few choice phrases and bring a smile to my lips. Everyone and everything was subject to her sarcastic reductions, even me. But something was amiss in our meetings. She was holding back. She was guarded on some level that I couldn’t get past and it seemed as if she was suspicious of me. I found that I wanted to get past this barrier in an almost unhealthy way. Oddly, it was Commander Du who finally put his finger on the root of the problem. After a long evening of what I can admit now was obsessing about where Shego had disappeared to after an argument with me, he commented that it would be much easier for him to track her down if I didn’t care whether or not she liked me. I denied it, of course, but as it sank in, I had to accept the truth. I wanted Elly to like me. I’m not talking about romance. I’m talking about friendship. She had seemed so eager to be my friend after the accident. Why was she now keeping this part of herself from me? Was she engaging in criminal activities? Was she back working for Drakken? Had I misjudged her that much? Was she cultivating my friendship in order to curry special treatment? I couldn’t find any evidence that she had turned back to a life of evil, but I was still convinced that she had. I think it was easier for me to believe that than to acknowledge my own feelings.


One night, about a year after the accident, I was depressed because the committee had denied my request for funds to have Dr. Porter build a prosthetic for me, again. Elly and I were having a drink and she was trying to cheer me up with a story about cutting a bear in half and using the insides to keep warm. Something about it seemed familiar and I accused her of making it up, or stealing it from a movie, or something along those lines. She took it in stride and assured me it was true but for some reason, I wasn’t hearing her. I was very angry. Not at her, I was just angry. She just happened to be the closest person and I guess I took it out on her. I accused her of lying… about the story… about her life… about everything. Accused her of going back to crime and told her I didn’t want to be used as a get out of jail free card for a conniving, dishonest, thief. I think I threw my glass at her. She didn’t react the way you’d expect. She just stood there for a second, stunned. Then, with a look that penetrated into my soul, she turned and fled. Her expression burned itself into my mind. I knew that look, it was hauntingly familiar. I had seen it on her face a year before. It was the same look she had when she watched me getting run down by that drunk.


Memories are funny things. You never know when a smell or a sound or a pattern is going to trigger your subconscious and bring out some long buried memory. Well, when I made that connection about her expression, it triggered something in my mind and my memories of that night came pouring out of wherever they had been locked away. I felt the impact of the truck. I felt Elly’s tears rain down on my face. I felt her strong, sure hands trembling as she dressed my wounds. I heard her voice, full of fear, providing an anchor so I wouldn’t drift away. It was surreal, like watching a movie at double speed, or listening to one of those chipmunk songs. Then it slowed down to real time and she said: …the real reason why I needed to fight Kim was because after I fought her, I had an excuse to spend time with you... …I couldn’t deny it anymore, I was in love with you. I could feel her warm breath on my cheek and the light caress of her lips on my brow.


I nearly passed out from shock. Elly… in love…? with me…?

[End notes:

Next Time:

Who needs enemies?


Chapter 10

Title: Learning to Fly, Six: Lift Off

I’m not sure how long I stood there semi-catatonic, my mind racing in circles like a computer stuck in an endless contradictory logic loop, trying to make sense of this new information. Every time my mind completed a circuit of the illogic loop, another piece of the puzzle fell into place and a picture I’d never consciously anticipated was taking shape.  The more I tried to deny it, the more it made sense. I snapped out of it when I heard the door slam and a part of me understood she was going away.  There was a voice in the back of my mind screaming that if I let her get away I’d never see her again.  I started after her but when I hit the street I stopped short. 


What could I say to her? 


What did I want from her?


What did she want from me?


If I chased her down, would she expect me to… be with her?


Do I want that? 


What do I say? What do I do? What do I want? 


I caught a glimpse of her. She was nearly a block away and moving fast.  I had to decide.  My mind continued to race along, sorting through all of the possibilities, the complications, the problems, the issues, the gossip… but I kept coming back around to the simple fact that I didn’t want her to leave.  I wasn’t even sure why I felt that way, but I knew I didn’t want to wake up tomorrow and not be able to call her up on the phone.  I didn’t want to face another disappointment without her sharp tongue and biting sarcasm to amuse me.  I didn’t want to come in to work on my days off because I didn’t have anything or anyone else to occupy my time and I couldn’t spend one more day alone in my apartment staring at the TV. My life before the accident had been lonely.  I didn’t want to go back to that.  That was enough for my legs, they took off after her and the rest of me had no choice.  I chased her down and cornered her. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say, much less how I wanted to say it but I knew I had to say something… I started babbling. I’m fairly sure I didn’t make any sense but I have a feeling she didn’t really want to leave any more than I wanted her to go.  She let me stutter for a few minutes before she clapped her hand over my mouth growled, “Gah! If I promise to come back with you, will you shut up?”


It was awkward for a while but after a few weeks, we developed a kind of comfortable rhythm to our time together.  I wanted her around but I didn’t want her to get the wrong idea and think I “wanted” wanted her.  I also didn’t want her to think I was leading her on so I constantly pointed out the fact that I didn’t want to sleep with her...  I don’t think she believed me.  She insisted that she was perfectly happy just to be my friend and that she wouldn’t sleep with me if I threw myself at her…  I know I didn’t believe her.  At the end of the day, neither of us wanted to be alone and our relationship, no matter how weird it might have seemed at times, fulfilled that. 


You understand the social difficulties people in our positions face.  Never knowing a person’s true motivation… Never knowing when the requests for favors will start coming… What you don’t know is that I was never socially adept when I was younger.  Throughout high school and college I had many acquaintances but I never made a friend.  Elly was my first real friend.  I realize now, that I would have slept with her if I thought it was the only way to keep her around.  I’m sure she knew that and it’s a testament to her regard for me that she never once pressured me, physically or emotionally.  The months passed and a new pattern emerged in my life.  Sheldon spent most of his time on projects that wouldn’t come under my jurisdiction and when we did come into conflict, he was always supportive.  I’m not saying he ever took a dive.  I think we’re both too competitive for that but, after foiling one of his plans, I’d get a nice congratulatory note in the mail.  If he got away with something, the note would compliment my effort and assure me that I would do better next time.


Sitting across the table from a woman who used to be on my ten most wanted criminals list and is now my best friend, reading a note from my brother congratulating me on foiling his latest scheme, I came to a deeper understanding of the word “surreal.”  Slowly, my world outlook was changing.  You see, while you were giving me the run around and dragging your feet refusing to help me, my brother, the supposedly evil one, was helping me in the only way he knew how.  While the Agency’s psychiatrists were delving into my sub conscious trying to prove to me that hanging out with Shego was self destructive, she was making me laugh and making me feel as though I belonged somewhere.  I still came into work every day, but my heart wasn’t in the job anymore.  Fortunately, I had a couple of first rate junior agents on their way up and some senior agents who were fully capable of taking over some of my duties.  Sadly, none who was able to take over everything, but I have been able to spread out the duties among several top agents.  Ken Triplicate is a records ace.  Ben Sight is doing wonders over in analysis and planning. And Will Du is heading field operations more efficiently than I ever did.  Global Justice is in good hands. You don’t need a bitter woman who’s heart isn’t in it to be running it, especially one who’s dating an ex felon, and a female ex felon at that…  Oh, right… I skipped that part, didn’t I?


It was about three months ago, Elly had started training for her second assault on Mt. Midoriami.  To help her in her quest to conquer the thing, she enlisted the aid of one Sayuki Asami. Now, Sayuki is the cutest little Japanese girl you ever laid eyes on.  Athletic… determined… sweet too.  But she’s never made it past the second stage of the Sasuke women’s course much less the first stage of the men’s.  I knew Elly had picked her as a training partner because of how cute she was as much as because she was a good training partner.  I knew it because she told me so.  I don’t think Elly was trying to hurt me, but she was trying to make me a little jealous. Boy, did she succeed. I was so damn jealous we had matching complexions.  I had a hard time understanding it and a harder time accepting it.  It took me about three days to work it out, but when I understood what was going on and accepted it, I…  Let’s just say I’ve never been one to let what I want slip through my fingers… even if I’m missing half of them.  I wouldn’t say I was gay, but I wouldn’t say I was straight either.  Love doesn’t recognize gender and I’ve never spent any time worrying about sexual orientation.  In fact I’ve spent very little time worrying about sex at all.  It always seemed like too much work to be worth it.  You’ve got to take your clothes off… it’s messy… no one does it right… then you’ve got to clean up… get your clothes back on…  Why bother?  I’d been with men. I’d been with women.  It was the same thing.  Way too much drama for something I could take care of myself in a fraction of the time at my own convenience.  But I had never been with someone I really cared for and, quite frankly, I was unprepared for the difference that made.  And Elly can do this thing with her plasma that’s… well, it’s none of your business, actually.


As I was saying before I got sidetracked, I’ve made the necessary preparations.  GJ is in good hands and, in a few years, young Miss. Possible will be ready to take over my old job.  She may be ready sooner.  Perhaps she’ll break my record and become the youngest Director ever appointed. But that isn’t my concern anymore. None of it is. You had your chance to show me how much you valued me and my talents and you squandered it.  You used the bureaucracy of our organization… your organization now… to try and keep me in check. I’m done with that.  I’m done with your little power struggles and your red-tape.  In thirty seconds, I’m going to get up and walk away from it all.  I’m going to go get a new hand and then I’m going to start a new life.  You can consider this my resignation.



The thin man studied the woman sitting across from him intently. She was quite possibly the most dangerous woman in the world right now.  With her knowledge of the inner workings of the intelligence community, and her close relationships with a couple of the world’s more notorious criminal types, she could cause a lot of trouble. It would be easier for him in the long run if she conveniently forgot most of what she knew, but there really wasn’t any easy way he could make that happen.   He sighed inwardly, regretting the fact that he had allowed this meeting to take place in a public setting.  There was no way he could take her into custody discretely.  He was also positive that she had not come alone.  He couldn’t see Shego, but he was certain she was lurking somewhere nearby.  It was no coincidence that the former Director had pointed out the mercenary’s infiltrating prowess several times during her narrative.  It was also possible that her brother was nearby as well.  Sheldon was just as smart as Betty and lacked her moral compass.  The thin man suspected that if he tried anything, there was a good probability that he’d find himself plunging into the unknown.  His staff psychiatrists had warned him that this outcome was a possibility but they had rated it as negligible.  Among other things, it was time to get some new staff psychiatrists.  On the plus side, she had provided for her departure. She had rearranged the GJ command structure and distributed her duties across her senior agents.  The transition would be as smooth as any of its type could be.  Right now, she was not an enemy, even if she was not an ally.  Letting her go allowed the possibility that she could be used by Global Justice in the future.  Trying to take her in would result in her being rendered useless or worse, becoming a dedicated enemy.  It took him less than a second to decide.


With a sad smile, he reached across the table.  “We’re going to miss you, Elizabeth.  I hope we can count on your discretion and occasional assistance…?”


She smiled back and took his outstretched hand with her good one.  “Of course.”


As she walked away, she was joined by a plump blonde woman.  A cab pulled up as they approached the curb and they got in.  As a matter of course, he ordered them followed but in less than twenty minutes he got the call saying that the tail had lost them.  He sighed and turned his attention to an internal matter in the CIA.



Sheldon glanced at the rearview mirror.  The car that had been tailing them was no longer visible.  He waited a few more minutes to make sure there wasn’t anyone else behind them before announcing to the women in the back seat, “We lost them.” 


Betty let out the breath she hadn’t realized she been holding and sagged against the pale woman beside her.  “That went better than I thought.”  When she didn’t get an answer, she turned to look at Shego. The former thief had removed her blonde wig and was sitting quietly with an unreadable expression on her face. “What?”


“I heard everything you said to him, you know.”


“I know, El.  I was telling the story for your benefit as much as for his.  I wanted you to know… what’s wrong?”


“I don’t want you to be with me just because there’s no one else…”


“El, there is no one else.  And there never will be.”


“Gah!  I think I’m going to throw up.”


“Well, open a window.  These are new shoes.”


Shego’s expression softened and she pulled Betty in tighter.  Glancing up, she noticed they were getting some attention from the front seat.  “Keep your eye on the road, twin-boy, or I’ll poke it out!” she growled at the driver.


“Don’t think that just because we’re in a moving car I can’t push a button and send you sliding down into the sewers, Mistress of the Dark.”


Shego lit her hands. An operation made more complicated by the fact that they were in a small enclosed space and that Betty was holding on to one of them.  “I’ve been taking lip from you all day, Tweedle-bum. You say that one more time and I’m gonna give you a plasma enema.”


“Truth hurts, huh?” He said with a smirk.


Shego tried to untangle herself from Betty and climb into the front seat.


“Stop it, El! He’s just trying to get a rise out of you.”


“Well, he’s going to get a lot more than he bargained for if he keeps pushing my buttons.”


“Besides, he’s right… in a round about way…”


“It’s all fine and good for you to stick up for your brother, but remember who you’re sleeping with to—“ Shego stopped and looked at Betty.  The one eyed woman was trying to keep a straight face, but a little smirk was showing around the edges.  In the front seat her brother was grinning like an idiot.  “What do you mean, ‘He’s right.’?”


“I don’t think this is the best time…”


“No time like the present.  You two can let me in on the joke or you can let me out of the car.”




“Don’t you ‘Elly’ me.  Spit it out, Ms. Director.”


Betty looked sheepish.  “That’s part of it right there.  My… our…” Her gesture took in Sheldon, “…family name isn’t ‘Director.’ That’s just my title… was my title.”


Shego glanced back and forth between them.  Neither of them was hiding their amusement very well and it was starting to get on her nerves.  “What the hell is your name then?”


Sheldon turned partway around and included both of them in a sweeping gesture. “Elvira Gonzales… I’d like you to meet Elizabeth Scarita.”


“Scarita.” Betty echoed between chortles.  The one-eyed woman was obviously trying to control her expression. “My name’s ‘Scarita.’”  She was shaking and a tear was rolling down her face.  She obviously thought that it would mean something to the pale woman and she was biting her lip in a not entirely successful attempt to keep from laughing out loud. Shego kept looking back and forth between the twins trying to understand what was so damn funny and getting more and more upset.  Betty recognized it and tried to stop laughing.  “It’s Italian…” She took a deep breath and covered Shego’s hand with her’s. “It’s been mangled over the years but, roughly translated it means ‘the black’ or ‘the dark.’”


Shego’s eyes were as large as Betty had ever seen them “No. Fucking. Way.” She whispered. A strangled choking sound came from the front seat. “Tell me you’re joking.”  The pale woman begged.  Betty didn’t trust herself to speak.  She just shook her head.  A snort escaped from her throat.  Finally she couldn’t hold it in any longer and she broke out in uncontrolled laughter.  From the front seat, her brother joined in.   The pale woman put her head in her hands and sighed deeply.  “It’s just not fair.” She said quietly, a grin spreading across her face despite her shock and disbelief at life’s little quirks. “After all this time, after everything I’ve done to get away from it, I end up actually being… I’m actually El… Elvira… Miss… I’m… Mistress…” Her mouth worked silently a few times but she couldn’t bring herself to say it.  Finally she just leaned back in the seat and closed her eyes.


“Look at it this way, Elly.” Betty said, giving her a little kiss on her cheek. “We were supposed to end up together. It’s Destiny.”


“Well, Destiny is a bitch.”


The End.

[End notes:

Thus concludes “Act II: Learning to Fly.”  Look for the continuing adventures of Betty and Shego to appear in this space sometime in the summer of 2008.  It will most likely be called “Act III: The Ballad of Bet and Elly.” 


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