“Those two seem to be all of the ones I have, Kimberly,” Nana called from the bedroom of her pad at the spacious Chez Leisure. She walked into the living room to find Kim looking askance at their size, the both of them having roughly the same huge dimensions as the one she already had in her possession. “Mim was a writer, Kimberly,” she reminded her. “She tended to write a great deal about everything that happened to her.”
“So I see,” Kim agreed, picking up the one entitled “1903-1904” and flipping to a random entry.
October 17th, 1904
My self-imposed month of solitude ended abruptly last night when I spotted Sheila skulking about outside of my cabin. As soon as she realized that I had seen her, she panicked like a scared rabbit and ran off into the woods. I gave chase and soon tracked her to a small clearing not far from the cabin. It took her a few seconds to notice my presence, and when she did, she looked ready to flee again. I did not want that, so I took the legs out from under her, grappling with her until we came to rest with me perched on her chest. I looked down at her and saw real fear in those beautiful emerald eyes, an emotion that I had seen naught but a few times. I knew what she was afraid of, that I would rip her still-beating heart out of her chest like I had done when I became engaged to Jon. My choice had been made long ago though, and so I sought to assuage those fears as best I could. I kissed her, and she kissed back, the mix of relief and joy she felt at my actions coming through in her caress. I must confess that what I remember coherently from this point is minimal. I have no idea how we made it back to the cabin or how we divested ourselves of our clothing. As of right now, I can only remember the exquisite sight of her nude body and the intoxicating feel of her under my fingertips…
Kim stopped right there, shutting the journal, setting it down and backing away. She could feel the mother of all blushes spreading swiftly across her skin and she was powerless to stop it. A thousand thoughts ran through her head, most of them fairly typical and along the lines of “Mim was gay!” but some completely unwanted and having to do with a certain green-skinned villainess.
Nana noticed the sudden rush of color to Kim’s skin. It was actually difficult not to, considering that even the strip of tummy peeking out from her crop top was bright red. She glanced at the particular volume Kim had been reading and nodded, knowing instantly what was causing the embarrassment. Mim did write about everything “I take it Mim did not exactly let on that she and Sheila were involved?” Nana asked, putting it diplomatically to avoid causing Kim any further embarrassment.
“Um, no,” Kim sputtered, the passage still burned into her brain and refusing to let go. She scrubbed her face with her hand in an attempt to alleviate her blush, but it did little good. She was a little surprised at her reaction. Sure, she had just found out that one of her long-ago relatives was gay, but no big. She knew several gay people and did not have a problem with them. Why was Mim being gay was different? Kim decided that it was just the shock of reading something like that in a journal from a hundred years ago. People back then were different, like your parents, and they did not do stuff like that. They especially weren’t supposed to write about it. She had just been caught off guard and now she was fine with it. Her discomfort absolutely nothing to do with the fact that there were a boatload of similarities between she and Mim and her relationship with Shego was complicated to the extreme, nope, not at all. Settling herself down, she addressed her grandmother. “So the legend of the Mansion is true?” she asked. “Sheila built it for Mim?”
“Yes, but that is not the whole story,” her grandmother replied. She was going to elaborate, but just then a horn honked from the outside.
“Well, that is my ride. Thanks for the journals, Nana,” she said, as she began loading the books into a duffle she had brought for that purpose. “I am sure they will help.”
“Not a problem, dear,” her grandmother replied, and when Kim was ready to go, she gave her a hug. “Good luck with saving the world, Kimberly-Ann. I know you can do it.”
“Thanks, Nana,” Kim said sincerely. “But I do have Sheila’s great-grandniece to help me.”
“That reminds me. Say hi to Shego for me, will you? And tell her that I will e-mail that Drakken fellow my recipe for lemon squares soon,” she requested.
“Sure thing, Nana,” Kim said as she walked out the door. Then processing what her grandmother had actually said, she turned around. “You know who Sheila’s great-grandniece is?” she asked.
“Of course, dear. She looks exactly like Sheila,” her grandmother answered matter-of-factly. The horn sounded again. “Go now or you will miss your ride,” she ordered. “Have a safe trip, Kimberly-Ann.”
“Bye, Nana,” Kim called as she ran toward the plane.
“Bye, dear,” Nana called back, waving as Kim boarded the plane.
Middleton, several hours later
Kim walked up to the Mansion, Ron, Rufus and journals in tow. She hadn’t seen the need to bring them on the short trip to Florida, but now that the mission was going to start in earnest, they needed to be there.
The first thing she noticed was the prominent “Closed until Further Notice” sign affixed to the door. Ignoring it, she rang the bell. “Can’t you read?” came the bellow from inside. “Piss off!”
“It’s us, Shego!” Kim yelled back.
“Well, why didn’t you say so, Princess?” Shego retorted as she opened the door.
“You didn’t give me a chance,” Kim shot back. Shego was about to get really testy when Ron cut in.
“So,” he began, having made his way indoors and installed himself in front of the fireplace looking back and forth between Shego and the portrait of Sheila, “if your nickname is ‘Junior,’ does that mean your real first name is Sheila?” he asked, blithely unaware that Shego was already annoyed and asking her a stupid question would push her completely over the edge into pissed off.
Before she could answer, though, an imperious Shego-like voice from the back of the room answered for her. “Keep asking stupid questions, Ronald, and I will escort you out myself,” Sheila stated, surprising them all with her unexpected arrival. Looking completely normal, if somewhat transparent and old-fashionedly clothed, she glided over to where Kim stood unpacking Mim’s journals. “Excellent job, Mim-jay,” she congratulated her. “These are precisely the ones we need.”
“Mim-jay?” Kim and Ron questioned simultaneously, but Sheila had turned her attention to her great-grandniece.
“Where are mine, Junior?” she asked.
“Right here, Nana,” Shego answered, holding a much thinner stack of books aloft. Sheila glided over to her. Shego scowled and fidgeted, obviously having something to say but not wanting to say it.
“Say what you will, Junior,” Sheila said, amused at her discomfort. “You obviously have something you wish to discuss.”
Shego fidgeted some more, but at last came out with it. “Could you stop calling me ‘Junior'?” she asked gruffly. “No one calls me that anymore.”
Sheila arched an eyebrow and Shego winced. She knew she shouldn’t have asked. “No, Sheila Miriam Goshen, I will not stop calling you ‘Junior,’” Sheila stated. “You are named after me, I gave you that nickname, and since I am already dead, there is precious little you can do to make me cease and desist.”
“Sorry I asked, Nana,” Shego muttered.
“As well you should be,” Sheila scolded mildly. “But you had to ask. You would not be my Junior if you did not ask,” she said, the fond smile she carried on her face evident in her voice.
Shego smiled back. “You taught me to be like that, you know,” she pointed out. “No one else came close to your attitude and you have no idea how much I’ve missed you, Nana.”
“And I have missed you, Junior,” Sheila replied. They looked at one another for a few moments and it became clear to Kim that if there was one person in the entire universe that tough-as-nails Shego cared about, it was her Nana Sheila.
“Peas in a pod, those two,” said a voice by her ear, causing Kim to jump. She turned to see a figure that could only be Mim standing beside her. “That girl has been nothing but trouble since the day she was born, but she has always been the apple of Sheila’s eye,” Mim explained. She looked at Kim briefly and then smiled. “But I can hardly say much. You were my pride and joy when you were a baby. And you turned out exactly as I thought you would: smart, beautiful and able to best anyone who stands in your path.”
Kim was touched and, admittedly, a little weirded out that someone she had only known about for a little while knew and cared so much about her. “How long did you know us?” she asked. “Because Shego obviously knows you and I don’t even remember you.”
“Junior was about seven when we passed on. She would spend her summers here in Middleton with us, which is how the three of us became so close,” Mim answered. “You, on the other hand, were only about one when we died, so we never really got to know you.”
“Hm,” Kim mused. It made sense; Shego was older than she was. “I guess I only have one more question. Why did Sheila call me ‘Mim-jay’?”
“She always called you that as shorthand for Miriam Junior,” Mim replied. “You were not named after us like Junior, but Sheila was convinced that you would grow up to look just like me. It was one of the few times she was right.”
“I heard that,” Sheila called from the other side of the room.
“And I meant you to,” Mim replied saucily.
Sheila shook her head. The universe would end before Mim would let her have the last word. “All right ladies…” she began. Ron coughed. “And Ronald…” she continued dismissively. Rufus coughed. “And naked mole rat, we need to get started.”
“Where do we start?” Kim asked.
“With my 1905-1906 journal,” Mim replied and Kim fished it out from the pile that Nana had given her. “Those entries should start in the spring.”
“What entries, Nana Mim?” Shego asked.
“The ones pertaining to the Temple of the Avenging Prism. It is where we tracked Lipsky down to when he was scheming to take over the world,” Mim said nonchalantly.
“Lipsky? Drakken’s family is involved in this too?” Shego asked incredulously, not having read the journal like Kim had.
“Yes,” Mim replied, giving them all a brief synopsis. “Sheila worked for him briefly, but then turned state’s evidence against him, sending him to prison. He was quite sore at her for that and vowed revenge. While in prison, he unearthed a legend about a mystical amulet that would give the wearer the power to rule the world. He escaped from prison and decided to go after it, thinking it was the answer to all of his problems. Sheila and I caught wind of his scheme and thwarted him in his attempt.”
Shego had only heard one thing. “You worked for a Lipsky?” she asked Sheila. Sheila nodded. “When you were a thief, before you met Nana Mim, you worked for a Lipsky,” Shego clarified. Sheila nodded again. Shego briefly looked proud, but then after looking at Kim, looked vaguely disturbed.
Kim got them back on track. “So how did you beat him?” she asked.
“We tracked him down to the temple, fought over the amulet and whipped him pretty thoroughly,” Mim related. “We were slightly concerned that he would make another attempt to possess it though, and so we took the amulet with us. That turned out to be an enormous error, because it is the absence of the amulet from the temple that has set in motion Earth’s destruction.”
“And we have to find the stupid thing and put it back before these all-powerful crybabies throw their little temper tantrum,” Shego guessed.
“Exactly,” Mim responded. “The journals will lead you back to the temple and tell you how to circumvent the traps. I was very careful to write very precise descriptions of where we started from and where we went, and Sheila photographed anything that might be considered a landmark. It should not be that difficult.”
“What about the amulet? We need to find that before we can do anything,” Kim reminded them.
“Oh, that,” Sheila said dismissively. “Junior knows where that is.”
This was news to Shego. “I do?” she questioned
“You do,” Sheila confirmed. “You wore it as a necklace for most of your childhood, though I doubt you ever really realized what it was. There is a picture of it in my journal if you don’t remember it.”
“Oh, I remember it,” Shego countered. “I remember that Mother took it away from me after we got pummeled by the comet because she said it was far too valuable of an artifact for a trouble magnet like me to get destroyed. She could never figure out why you gave it to me.”
“We gave it to you because you were our Junior and we wanted you to have something of ours that was unique,” Mim said, smiling at Shego. Shego grinned back, pleased that Mim was finally paying attention to her and not Kim.
“We also thought you would keep it away from Lipsky,” Sheila interjected wryly, an ironic smile on her face. Shego looked mildly embarrassed. “About that comet,” she continued, suddenly switching gears, “Mim and I apologize sincerely for that.”
“And why would you have to apologize for that?” Shego asked suspiciously, her happy mood evaporating.
“Because the current threat is not the first time they have retaliated,” Sheila admitted. “The comet was a sort of warning shot that they fired when the eighty-four years we had to put the amulet back expired. It went unheeded, though, because a) no one had any idea that your necklace and its arrival were linked and b) it gave you superpowers rather than killing you.”
At Sheila’s admission, Shego removed herself from the conversation and left the room to find some privacy. She needed quiet because she needed to think. That comet had made her a freak, and she knew she should be pissed off about it, but she did not know if she wanted to be angry at her Nanas for causing her to be a freak, if she wanted to be angry with those stupid petty gods for making her a freak, or if she even truly gave a shit that she was a freak. As she sat there thinking, she debated within herself. She forgave her Nanas pretty quickly. They had no idea that their gift would do that to her or they never would have give it to her; she was certain of that. And as far as being a freak, she admitted to herself that she really did quite enjoy the power that came with her freakishness. If anyone was to blame, it was the gods, and well, she was going to be at their temple soon. She chuckled. They were going to find out really soon that paybacks were a bitch. Her mind made up, she rejoined the group, still chuckling. Sheila looked over at her, quirking a concerned eyebrow. Shego nodded her assurance that she was okay, and Sheila smiled.
“Eighty-four years?” Kim was asking as she came back into the room.
Mim was the one to answer. “Their calendar runs on 12-year cycles and we were given 7 of those cycles to put it back. Now that another 12-year cycle has almost past and the amulet is still not in its proper place, the punishment is more severe.”
“How do you know all this?” Ron asked, his mind trying to get around all the facts.
“You have no idea what a wealth of information there is to be had in the afterlife,” Mim responded sardonically. “And security is fairly lax for getting back up here, so we slipped through to this dimension in order to warn you. Because we had lived here so long, it was relatively easy to focus our energy here and exist within the confines of the house. In order to materialize, though, Sheila and I needed some sort of focal point for our energy and our journals were the perfect thing. We are still not quite sure of how the whole process works, but we are here, able to speak with you, and that is what matters most.”
“True,” Kim agreed. “So, Shego, where is the amulet?”
“Last I heard, it was at the Museum of Natural History in Chicago,” Shego responded. “When Mother took it away from me, she gave it to them.”
“We need to go get it,” Kim said.
“I think you would be better served to start going through the journals and fashioning a map from my notes and Sheila’s photographs,” Mim answered. “You will have questions about particulars and we should be here to answer them, but we cannot this dimension much longer and it will take some time for us to get back here.”
“All right!” Ron cheered. “I have always wanted to be a map-drawer person guy.”
“Cartographer,” Sheila corrected, wanting to add “idiot” but refraining due to the look Mim was giving her.
“Yeah, that!” Rufus chimed in.
Sheila rolled her eyes and Kim noted how much like Shego the response was. “Let’s get to work,” she suggested before Ron said something else to annoy Sheila.
“Good idea,” Shego said quickly, and they all sat down at the large table downstairs, journals in hand.
The first thing Kim did was to call Wade, thinking he would be able to distill all the information into a coherent digital map. He was able to, but because the information was buried in the minutiae of Mim and Sheila’s everyday life, it took a while to extract, and soon an interaction pattern emerged between the ghosts and the living. Mim and Sheila communicated by good naturedly bickering back and forth. Sheila and Shego communicated by slinging sarcastic zingers back and forth. Mim and Kim communicated by constantly asking each other questions and being thrilled with the responses. And Sheila communicated with Ron by politely insulting him.
After a while, though, even the banter began to fade as the task began to drag. They had a decent working map, but now they were trying to figure out all the traps that Mim and Sheila had evaded getting into the temple. Kim, who was in charge of reading Mim’s journal, sighed as she flipped yet another page in search of something useful. “For Pete’s sake, Aunt Mim, did you have to describe each and every jungle creature you came across?” she asked, exasperated.
Mim shrugged. “I tended to be verbose about everything,” she admitted.
“No kidding,” Kim muttered under her breath, thinking of what she had read at Nana’s. She hadn’t intended for anyone to hear, but Shego had picked right up on both her words and their hidden meaning.
“Thinking about a particular entry, are we, Pumpkin?” Shego teased.
“No,” Kim replied shortly, but the blush that was spreading over her skin said otherwise.
“See, I think you are lying,” Shego stated with a smirk. “What, did Princess read something that rocked her little world?”
“Well, it wouldn’t have if you had bothered to tell me that they were lovers instead of giving me that crap about the myth being an urban legend,” Kim retorted.
“Well, see, I was afraid it might warp your fragile little mind, so I gave you the sanitized tour version of events,” Shego replied patronizingly.
Kim harrumphed. “I might have a fragile little mind, but at least I knew Mim was a Possible. How do you miss something that obvious, anyway?”
“They didn’t exactly look like us when I knew them, Princess,” Shego pointed out. “They were older than dirt by then.” Then realizing what she had said, she made a hasty, halfhearted apology. “No offense, guys.”
“None taken, dear,” Mim called out pleasantly from the side of the room where she and Sheila were watching the fireworks.
“I’d like to see how fabulous you look at 102, Junior,” Sheila added.
In spite of her anger, Shego paused to smirk at the jibe. Then she went back to the fight with Kim. “And besides,” she continued, “as a kid, it was pretty obvious to me that they were married, and if they were married, they had to share a last name. Since I did know that Nana Sheila was a Goshen, Nana Mim had to be one too.” Kim didn’t look convinced. Shego snorted. “Trust me, Princess. I had known she was a Possible-”
“You would have what, Junior?” Mim interrupted, causing Shego to completely lose her train of thought.
“I don’t know. But it would have been something bad,” Shego finished petulantly. Kim chuckled. The transformation from fighting-mad adult to petulant kid had been instantaneous when Mim spoke, and it amused her to no end. “Don’t say a word, Princess,” Shego warned through gritted teeth. Kim wisely stayed silent.
“Well, on that note, I think we should wrap up for the evening,” Sheila suggested, seeing that tempers were wearing thin and some rest was in order.
“Couldn’t agree more, Nana Sheila,” Shego responded, unceremoniously hauling Ron to his feet and escorting both him and the already-standing Kim to the door. “I will pick you up tomorrow at 7AM. Bring your mission clothes, but wear something nice because we may have to impress some people.” She glanced at Ron. “If you want the sidekick and the naked rat to come along, have them dressed and at your house at 7, too.”
“Why? Where are we going?” Kim asked, forgetting to protest their departure when there was still work to be done with the journals.
“Doy, Princess, to Chicago. We have to get the amulet back,” Shego said.
“What if the museum doesn’t want to give it back?” Kim queried.
“Then we go to plan B,” Shego responded.
“And what is Plan B?” Kim rejoined.
“You ask too many questions, Pumpkin. Good night,” Shego said shortly, unceremoniously shoving them outside and shutting the door in their faces.
“Well, you heard her, Ron. Be dressed and at my house at 7. And I would wear a suit,” Kim instructed as they walked away.
“Okay, KP, Rufus and I will see you then,” Ron replied and they went their separate ways. When they were out of earshot, Ron spoke to Rufus. “I don’t think KP is gonna like Plan B, Rufus,” he said.
“Nu-uh,” Rufus agreed shaking his head.
“Well, buddy, it is time to hit the hay. We have a mission tomorrow,” he said as they entered the Stoppable residence.
“With Shego!” Rufus pointed out, obviously freaked out slightly by the prospect.
“I know, buddy. Awkweird doesn’t even cover it. But if KP is going, so are we,” Ron stated. “Good night, Rufus.”
“Night,” Rufus squeaked and soon they were both in bed and fast asleep.