Story: Give Me One Reason (chapter 6)

Authors: A Markov

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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,



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