The next day two networks and three cable stations had cameramen in Havana as an ancient taxi arrived at the airport. There were about a dozen reporters and photographers from magazines and newspapers as well. The massive form of Hego came out first from the cab. He bent over and gave his sister a hand to help her out.
The small crowd of journalists cheered as Shego emerged from the taxi. Maybe it wasn't such a bad thing Hego was there, she appreciated having his arm to lean on. And next to his huge frame she looked tiny and frail -- not a bad image for evoking sympathy from the American public. Her eyes were red from crying. “I… I… don't know how to express my gratitude to the President and the American people,” Shego said for the cameras, daubing her eyes with the handkerchief she had filled with bits of onion, “I will do my best to live up to the trust you have placed in me. Thank you.”
Hego put his arm around his sister and escorted her onto the chartered plane, ending the interview photo-op. No one dared press the giant too closely as he guarded his little sister. Three print journalists were allowed to accompany Shego on the small charter. Fear of discovery forced her to ditch the onion-filled hankie. She didn't need it any more, the video with the tears would be broadcast that evening. Besides, the pardon had left her in far too good a mood for crocodile tears
“Why are you going to Middleton instead of Chicago?” the man from the Associated Press wanted to know.
“My lawsuit was filed in Middleton. I'm not sure how much I want to travel with a baby, so I'll rent an apartment in Middleton until after the trial is over.”
“And you really think the courts are going to take a paternity suit against a woman seriously?” the woman journalist asked.
“I believe the courts will have to take it seriously after the genetic testing,” Shego answered. “I've led a lonely life. Kim Possible took advantage of my loneliness, I…” she buried her face in her hands. “Damn I need the onion.”
“How do you respond to the polls that show most people think you are engaged in some sort of weird hoax?”
“I can't blame anyone for being skeptical of my story. I have trouble believing it myself, and I know it's true. My response is to wait for the genetic testing. I am perfectly willing to face prosecution if this is a hoax--”
“The penalty for which won't be nearly as bad as the crimes you were pardoned for,” the AP man reminded her.
“They can bring those charges back if they want,” Shego said, knowing they couldn't. “All I'd like is for people to keep their minds open to the possibility until there is proof.”
Kim wasn't uncooperative, but neither did Bob Vholes find her helpful for her own case. He sat at the kitchen table with Kim and her parents for a session of planning strategy for the trial.
“Kim,” he began, “in order for me to prepare the best case I can you have to be completely honest with me. Is that clear?”
“How old are you, Kim?”
“And where were you when the alleged sex occurred?”
“Yeah. Is that good or bad?”
“Good for Shego, bad for you. You were of legal age in China. If you'd been seventeen when it happened, and in the US, we might have tried to charge her with statutory rape.”
“Wait a minute, I could have charged her with statutory rape, even though I was the one who started it?”
“You started it?” her mother demanded.
“Well, two of the three times we had sex.”
“Two of the three?” her father repeated in a hollow voice.
“James, I think we need to leave and let Kim talk with her lawyer alone. I don't think I can take any more honesty.” Her parents left.
Her lawyer slowly ran his hands over his face. “Miss Possible, we're going to have to figure out a new strategy. The jury is not going to buy you as victim.”
A couple days later an envelope fluttered out of Kim's locker when she opened it first thing in the morning. She tore it open along one edge and found a single sheet of unusually stiff paper, folded in half.
Can you meet me at the mall food court? 1:30?
It meant cutting civics, but Kim wanted desperately to know what was happening. She left school after English and made it to the mall a little after one. Mall security was supposed to check for truants, but Kim avoided them and staked out the food court, hoping Shego would be there early. At 1:25 a very pregnant Shego entered the food area. She ordered an Orange Julius and moved to a small table, far more public than would have ever been her custom in her criminal days. Kim wished the other woman had chosen a less conspicuous spot, but ordered a soda for herself at another food stand and joined Shego.
“Just can't keep away from me, can you?” Shego smirked when Kim sat down.
“Drop it, Shego, you asked me to be here.”
“Perhaps I did, Pumpkin, but you didn't have to come.”
“Come on, please, you're messing up my life.”
“I'm messing up your life?” Shego's laugh was long and bitter, “Funny, Possible, really funny. I can't do my work because--”
“You mean stealing? You're a thief, remember?”
“That was my job. And I had a great work ethic. But, no, someone had to knock me up and--”
“I can't believe it was me.”
“You going to try denying you had sex with me?”
Kim hung her head. “No. I can't do that.”
“Guess what, you're the only person I've been with in years. Which do you think would be the greater miracle, you as father or no father at all?”
“So, what do you want from me?”
“What do I want from you? That's a hell of a question. Everything… Nothing… I'm not even sure myself. You did this to me and--”
“Hold it right there, Miss Possible!” a voice shouted from the corner that marked the edge of the food court. Kim looked up, startled, and saw two policemen headed her way.
“Kimmie's in trouble now,” Shego taunted.
“You asked me to see you!” Kim reminded her.
“Can you prove that?”
“I have your note in my backpack.”
Shego smiled. “I doubt that. The chemicals on the note and envelope caused them both to crumble to dust a few minutes after you took the note out. But I'd be real careful about reaching into the back pack just now,” the pale woman whispered, “they might think you are going for a weapon.”
“I'm so glad you're here,” Shego said warmly when the officers arrived at the table. “She must have been stalking me. I tried to keep her calm until my lawyer got here. What alerted you?”
“Your lawyer saw the two of you talking and gave us a call.”
Shego faked a sigh of relief, “Good, I was afraid she would threaten me, or my lawyer.”
“Sorry, Kim,” an officer who knew her apologized, “but procedure is to handcuff you.”
The look of hate Kim directed at Shego just caused the older woman to smile and convinced the two officers Kim had posed a threat to Shego. As they started to lead Kim away Shego's lawyer approached the table, “Are you all right, what happened?”
“I'm fine, Sam,” Shego assured him, “someone thought she was above the law.”
Kim was too far away to hear him say, “I also called the local paper; I hope you don't mind.”
“Not at all,” Shego laughed, “you couldn't have done it better if you were in on the plan.”
He wondered what she meant. The Examiner cameraman was outside the entrance where the police car was parked and snapped a couple dozen images. The local TV crew didn't make it in time and had to buy stills from the paper.
Kim Possible Violates Restraining Order
The story appeared below the fold on the front page of the Middleton Examiner.
The judge let her off with a lecture on the dangers of truancy and the seriousness of a restraining order.
Kim's arrest was picked up by national media services and smaller stories ran in papers across the country, and it was mentioned on news reports on both radio and television. On a few radio talk shows some callers even raised the question if there could be any merit in Shego's paternity suit. For the most part it was still treated like a joke, but a growing number of people felt increasingly curious about what the paternity test would show.
As the time grew closer for her delivery Shego worked on mending fences with her family.
“Congratulations on avoiding the long arm of the law once again,” Mego remarked sourly when he took her call. “Think you'll keep your nose clean now that you have a pardon?”
“I'll believe that when I see it.”
“Well, get ready to see it. And you've got a chance to make a bundle.”
That caught her brother's attention, “How?”
“There is going to be a media frenzy when the brat is born--”
“More like the media turning on you for running a scam.”
“I'm telling the truth. And when that comes out everyone is going to want to know about my Team Go years. And that's not just good publicity for me, it's also good for Team Go and you.”
“Okay, I still don't believe you, but tell me more.”
“Quickie books. Find some ghostwriter who can churn out ten thousand words a day. Get your version of the Team Go history together in the next couple weeks. The day the kid pops out your book will be pure gold.”
“Dead serious. I've been working on my own book, ‘My Years with Team Go.’ I'm trying to give credit to you incompetents so I don't sound like an egomaniac. If you want yours to find a publisher you put emphasis on me. Call it, ‘My Sister, the Hero,’ or some crap like that. We'll both make millions.”
Kim's high school graduation was not the celebration it should have been. She told herself she had not fought crime for personal recognition and fame, but she would have enjoyed a little. A few friends, like Ron and Monique, stood solidly with her. Bonnie and a few others who were jealous of her fame were always happy to assault her reputation. Too many students really didn't know her well. She had always been too busy with a range of activities and missions to form many close friendships. ‘Aloof’ and ‘not very friendly’ were some of the phrases her classmates used to describe her. An extraordinary number of flashes went off as she processed across the stage and received her diploma, but she wondered how the captions below the photos would read when the pictures appeared in the newspapers.