“What a day,” Kim thought as she arrived home. Last week's mission to secure an archaeological site in Belize from international looters, who would sell the pre-Columbian artifacts to art 'collectors', had been exhausting, but the paperwork was proving even worse. Will Du seemed to thrive on that sort of minutiae, but it made her want to go down to a Global Justice training room and hide. Her mood didn't improve when she saw the number of cars parked at her home. Jim and Tim were obviously throwing another party. She owed her mom and dad too much to say no when they asked to fix up the apartment over the garage and let the twins move in for college. At least her mom and dad seemed to be having a wonderful time these days with no children at home -- she hoped they were taking precautions.
What bothered her most about her brothers was the fact that she had gotten into so much trouble when she first started college and didn't have good study habits. These two seemed to do nothing but party, and still kept up excellent grades. “No justice,” she muttered to herself as she walked up to the front door. She was going to eat supper, get into her pajamas, play with the girls, and go to bed early.
When Kim got inside the house, however, a dark-haired form wrapped herself around the redhead and gave her a deep and passionate kiss. “Change clothes,” Shego whispered, “you and I are having a romantic dinner at the Astor.”
“Not tonight dear, I have a headache,” Kim groaned.
“Just the two of us. Ron will watch the girls.”
“I told you yesterday. I'm tired. I just want to relax around the house tonight. I need to catch up on 'Tomorrow is Another Day.'”
“Tomorrow is another day, you need a nice dinner and half a bottle of wine to help you relax tonight.”
While the two were talking Kasy and Sheki had come out into the entryway to see mommy.
“What have you done now, Shego?” Kim demanded. “The romantic dinner makes me think you have some news you don't want to tell me unless I have a buzz.”
“Eemah brought home a fairy godmother!” Kasy exclaimed.
“Shhhh!” Sheki hushed her sister. “That was 'sposed to be a secret.”
“Girls, why don't you go to the kitchen and ask uncle Ron to show you how to fold a napkin swan? Eemah and I need to talk for just a minute -- alone.”
A little later Kim and Shego went into the kitchen to see how Ron's napkin lesson was progressing. “Can you take the girls upstairs and read them a story after supper?” Kim asked Ron. “Shego and I need to continue a conversation, in the basement where it won't disturb anyone.”
“I don' think Helen likes it when you talk in the basement,” Kasy said.
“Then Helen can go haunt the attic while we are talking.”
Other than the obvious tension between Kim and Shego it was a delightful dinner. Sheki insisted she had been folding the napkins to look like rocks and Kasy's napkin swan vaguely resembled a napkin octopus.
After dinner the two women headed downstairs. Kim leaned back against a wall and Shego perched on the dryer.
“How many criminals have we had stay with us?” Kim asked in a tired voice.
“Not counting you.”
“Uh, how many do you think?”
“Sure, three it is. Good guess.”
“If I'd said four would you have agreed to four?”
“You know me, always agreeable. Hey, two or three were Bonnie's guests.”
“TWO OR THREE WERE BONNIE'S GUESTS!” Kim closed her eyes and rubbed her temples. She suspected Helen would be complaining to the girls about her yelling. “Shego, I work for Global Justice.”
“And I'm the only one who had an international rap sheet. At least of the people I've had here. Global Justice wasn't worried about any of the people I invited.”
“Who did Bonnie… Never mind. You had me fighting heroes when they came for Pickman!”
“He was my teacher. And Rosencrantz and Guildenstern aren't heroes, they're insurance investigators.”
“It's the same thing. You said they helped you a couple times back when you were with your brothers in Team Go.”
“C'mon, Kim. Pickman built us the best security system in Middleton while he was here. You owed him a head start. And you talked about what a nice grandfatherly type man he was before those two showed up. I don't think Hego could have stopped them as well as you.”
“Look, I'm sorry I brought Pickman up. I didn't even know he was wanted until after the fight with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Let's drop that. Why in the hell did you bring Amy here?”
Shego's voice dropped into a serious tone. “We owe her, Kim. Someone's hurt her; hurt her badly. She needs a chance to recover. You haven't seen her; she's a mess. I wouldn't leave a dog on the street in her condition.”
“She's a criminal.”
“Just barely. Most of the trouble she got into was for unapproved experiments. I even know a redhead who egged her on into one that was may have been illegal, it was certainly unapproved.”
Kim pressed her lips firmly together at the memory. After a minute she said, “Okay, we owe her. She's really in bad shape?”
“God's truth. It looks like she's been on the street for months. I'm not even sure if her mind is still all there. I'm hoping some rest and food will get her thinking clearly.”
“Shego, promise to ask me before you bring another villain home.”
“I promise, Kim. I will not bring another old friend home without telling you first.”
“I said 'ask' not 'tell'.”
“Yes, but you also failed to say I had to obtain your permission. I'll ask before bringing someone home -- it won't matter whether you say yes or no.”
“I liked you better before law school,” Kim groused. “You were such a beautiful felon. And I could always beat you when we fought.”
“Too many blows to the head, Kim. I beat you all the time. And you fell in love with me because I'm so good in bed. It was dreadfully shallow of you. But I'll forgive you. Now, why don't we get on our pajamas and catch up with 'Tomorrow is Another Day'? Ron says Bonnie got a lot of on-air time this week. And we'd better be caught up on the storyline or we'll catch hell again the next time she comes home.”
“Okay, but after the girls go to bed I want a 'Tomorrow' break and a reminder of why I fell in love with you.”
Shego gave her a broad grin. As they headed up the stairs, however, Shego had one more request. “I don't want you telling ANYBODY that she is here. Whoever hurt her is still out there, and I don't want him or her to know where Amy is.”
“You make it sound like someone we know.”
“I'm making it sound like I have no idea. Someone tells someone else that she is here, and the word gets around. I'm serious, Kim. I don't even want you telling your mom and dad she's here.”
“Is that why you told the girls her name was Holly?”
“You can swear a three year old to secrecy, but you can't trust her to keep the promise. I thought Holly was a good choice, since her real name is Amy Hall.”
Shego rapped on the door the next morning, “Are you alive in there? You've been sleeping for sixteen hours.”
“Where am I?” a frightened voice answered.
“I brought you to my place. You're in Middleton. I think everyone would appreciate it if you took a shower or bath before breakfast.”
“I don't have any clothes but what I have on.”
“Yeah, that is a problem. I don't think any of my stuff or Kim's would fit you. I borrowed some jeans and a jersey from Ron. They will probably be loose on you.”
“Ron Stoppable. Kim's old partner.”
Amy opened the door. At least the sleep had left her talking rationally even if it didn't improve the atmosphere around her. Shego showed her the bathroom. Before she went back to strip the bed so she could wash the linens the pale woman told her guest, “Oh, your code name is Holly while you are here. We don't want the girls saying anything at daycare about an Amy who is staying with us.”
When Amy found her way down to the kitchen, her hair still wet from the shower, Kim decided Shego had done the right thing. She would not have recognized Amy if she had passed her on the street. Ron set a plate of fried eggs, turkey bacon, and a slice of cantaloupe down on the table in front of her and she fell on it as if she was starving. Almost within seconds she was literally licking the plate before Ron could even ask if she wanted more.
'Holly' ate two more plates of breakfast before Kim told Ron to stop. “Don't eat yourself sick,” the redhead told her. “Get some rest, there is plenty of food for later.”
The twins had been staring at their strange guest as she had devoured her food like an animal. They suspected they would be in trouble if they used manners like that. After three breakfasts Amy was a little more aware of her surroundings and peered closely at the little girls. She slowly reached out a hand and gently stroked Kasy's red hair. “You have very pretty hair.”
“I hate it,” the little red head said.
“You hate it?”
“Yes. People always say that. People always touch it. I hate it.”
“I wish I had pretty hair,” Sheki said. “People always wanna talk with Kasy.”
“You have very pretty hair too,” Amy said, realizing she had probably said it too late.
“Not your fault,” Kim told Amy. “It's a problem we get all the time. The redhead's curse. Doesn't matter what else you do with your life, it's the first thing people notice and talk about.”
“Girls, could you help uncle Ron load the dishwasher while Mommy and Eemah go upstairs and talk with Holly?”
“That's my squid. I have to get to work and Eemah will take you to daycare before classes.” Kim gave huge hugs to the twins before leaving the kitchen.
Once upstairs Shego got a set of fresh sheets while Kim found an oversized t-shirt for Amy to sleep in.
As the couple made the bed Kim addressed Amy, “Look, I don't think you like either one of us. I'm sure neither of us really likes you. But Shego thinks you should stay until you get feeling better.”
“I want a little more than that, Princess. I don't think she should leave until I find the bastard who did this to her and make sure it doesn't happen again.”
“I don't know if I want Amy staying that long. It could take you awhile.”
“I have a couple suspects--”
Amy broke in, “Can I say something?”
“Sorry,” Kim said. “I wanted some ground rules with you. Shego and I get into discussions--”
“But making up is a lot of fun,” Shego giggled.
Kim rolled her eyes and addressed Amy. “I don't like letting you stay here alone. But you kept your promise to me before. Will you promise to stay inside today? You're welcome to any food in the house, and the television is in the living room. We can talk about more ground rules tonight. Just promise me you won't steal anything. I have to get to work.” Actually, Kim wouldn't have minded Amy stealing anything in the house if she took it and was gone when Kim got home that evening.
“I've never been a thief,” Amy growled. “Okay maybe a couple things I needed for my genetics work. But I never stole from individuals. And I… Thanks… I won't do anything to hurt you after you helped me like this.”
“No big,” Kim told her, “I had no idea Shego was so hospitable until we were living together.”
Kim left for work and Shego read a couple books to the twins before taking them to daycare and heading for her own classes in the law school. She left Ron playing video games; his own classes weren't until later in the day.
On her second day Shego took DNAmy to the Middleton Dental School for work. The dental students did great work, and didn't ask as many questions about their patient, Holly, as they would have once they had established practices. It took several trips over the next week, but three filling, two crowns, and an implant later Amy had her wide toothy smile again. She gained some weight and lost some of the haunted look. She picked up several outfits at the Salvation Army Thrift Store. It wasn't clear what 'normal' size would be for her when she left. The twins begged to be allowed to accompany Eemah and Holly and found the Thrift Store a treasure store of dress-up clothes.
Shego sat anxiously on the front porch staring up and down the street. She didn't like coming home to an empty house and not even finding a note on the refrigerator. After several anxious minutes she heard a familiar roar and the Indian pulled into the driveway. She followed Ron as he rode into the garage.
“Why didn't you answer your damn cell phone,” she yelled at Ron as he put down the kickstand and took off his helmet.
“What?” he yelled, cupping his hand behind an ear.
“Why didn't you…” he turned off the engine and Shego muttered, “Never mind. Could you leave a note before taking off? Where are the girls?”
“I went in to the kitchen to start supper. Amy was with the girls. I went to ask her a question a few minutes later and they were all gone. I panicked and got on the bike.” Shego looked worried as Ron spoke. “She took them to the park. Or they took her to the park -- I'm really not sure which. Anyway, I made them promise to bring each other home in half an hour and not go out again without telling us.”
As they walked back to the house Ron told Shego about picking the girls up from daycare, “Kasy called me daddy today.”
“Some kid in daycare with her, Cindy I think, said everyone has a daddy. So Kasy decided I'm hers. You're going to have to explain things to them some day.”
“Yeah, but not 'til they're older. I sometimes have trouble understanding it myself. How about Sheki?”
“She still wants to marry me when she gets older. She told Kasy I can't be daddy because you can't marry daddies.”
Shego laughed, “You've got a string of broken hearts a mile long. You should have married me when I offered.”
“Oh, there's a storyline for a soap opera, 'I married a lesbian.'”
“Hey, I'd never cheat on you with another man.”
Inside the house Ron went back to work in the kitchen. Shego brought her Constitutional Law text into the kitchen and studied at the table while Ron cooked in the background.
Kim's hand reached over, searching for Shego, and found the other half of the bed empty. It took a minute for the fact to register in her brain: Saturday morning, Shego had the girls with her at synagogue, Kim's morning to sleep in late.
Wearing dark glasses and a wig borrowed from Bonnie's make-up chest the geneticist began spending time catching up on journals in the open stacks at Middleton U's science library during the day. Shego felt relief that Amy's mind hadn't suffered any apparent damage.
Kim came home late in the second week of Amy's stay to find the geneticist and the twins having a tea party in the formal dining room.
“Where's Eemah?” she asked the girls.
“She's in her study.”
Kim opened the door into the still unfinished library, now a library once again through the piles of law books scattered about on the floor. Kim sat down on the second wing chair. Shego took off her reading glasses and put them on the end table.
“How was your day, Pumpkin?”
“Well, the Belize mission is over. And 'over' means the paperwork too, that took longer than the fieldwork. Dr. Director wants Will and me to look over reports that WEE is re-forming. I hope that is a waste of time -- but I shouldn't have any late nights next week. How were classes?”
“The prof said I was fucking brilliant in torts today.”
Kim raised one eyebrow, “Is that an exact quote?”
“No, but that was how the Legals all paraphrased it at the study group. They say old Stilson never gives a compliment. Do you remember that the Legals' spring picnic is in three weeks?”
“I'm trying hard to forget, but you keep reminding me every other day.” Kim teased. “Were you with the girls at their tea party, or is Ron home early tonight? They have places set for four.”
“The girls insisted Amy set a place for Helen. I think I saw her in there with them.”
“Can Amy see her?”
“About as well as you can. She figures Helen is some sort of imaginary friend. She can't decide if I'm kidding about her or nuts.”
“Is the poker game still on for Saturday night?”
“Yeah, but I've told Amy she has to stay upstairs with the girls. She's agreed.”
“You're a raving paranoid. You know that?”
“Kim, please trust me on this. Amy has never done enough evil to have a long list of enemies. I don't want any word getting out to anybody. I've just about got it cracked. I'm hoping by next week I'll have the proof I need.”
“Is Wade helping you again or are you still doing investigations all by yourself?”
“Wade is not helping,” Shego replied a little too sharply. “If it weren't for Dr. D. I don't even think I'd still be doing the maintenance on the hovercraft.”
Kim sighed, “It's hard to lose a friend.”
“I don't think you've lost him completely. At least not yet.”
Kim smiled at her partner. Given her history the pale woman's faith in human nature was often puzzling, but usually comforting.
Sunday morning, Shego's morning to sleep late while Kim took the girls to Sunday School. Shego wasn't sure what her own mother and father thought of her Judaism, but Kim's mom thought it was great -- Kim was too competitive to allow herself to fall behind in the religious studies race and went to services more faithfully now than ever. An evil grin played at Shego's lips, it had been two in the morning before the last of the poker players went home -- Kim would be snoring in church during the sermon.
Shego was convinced Kim would lose this contest. She was now letting the girls light Sabbath candles with her on Friday evening. Kim didn't have anything which would fill the heart of a three-year old with joy like lighting candles. Christmas and that damn tree were hard to compete with. She had to convince Ron to become observant enough to object with her.
Kim and Shego, their arms around each other's waists, stood in the doorway and stared at the trio playing Candy Land on the living room floor. Amy was giggling as loudly as the twins. Ron, standing on the other side, smiled, “Pretty amazing, isn't it?” The couple just nodded. “Amy, can we have some of the snickerdoodles you made with the girls this afternoon?”
“Help yourselves,” the geneticist called in a cheery voice.
The trio moved to the kitchen and Shego put on a pot of water for tea.
“Unbelievable, an adult who is willing to play that game with them,” Kim said. “I don't think we need any other proof that Amy is insane.”
“But look at it this way,” Ron continued, “if she's playing it with them, none of us have to.”
“I think we should let her extend her stay,” Shego added. “I always draw the short straw when we see who'll play with them.”
“You don't draw it all the time. We all feel that way. It's the times we lose that we really remember.”
“Seriously, Shego,” Ron asked, “have you figured out what happened with her?”
“Yeah. I finished putting the proof together this afternoon.”
“Are you going to the police?”
“The police can't do what needs to be done.”
“I don't like that answer,” Kim said. “You violate your probation and you're back in prison.”
“I don't want to hurt anyone,” Shego promised. “But the courts are mostly set up to punish. I want to see if I can get Amy back some of her life. I'm going to try to get some kind of restitution for her.”
“There's no way to get her back the years she lost,” Ron said. “If the bastard won't listen to you, tell me who it is and I'll hurt him.”
Author's Note: “I hate my hair,” is a quote from my own little red head. Yeah, it's the thing everyone talks about when they see her.