Story: Give Me One Reason (chapter 7)

Authors: A Markov

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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


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