Kim tried to slip out of Shego's arms and the bed quietly in the morning, but her lover just held her tighter. The younger woman turned her head and saw Shego was wide-awake, “You look awful. Was I tossing around that much?”
“It wasn't your fault that neither of us had a good night's sleep. This is just too weird for me. Can we just spend all day in here?”
“I think it went very well under the circumstances.”
“Yeah, like the circumstances of you blurting everything out as soon as we got in the door and then retreating to the bathroom. If you weren't pregnant I'd have made you sleep in the car.”
“I probably wouldn't have slept any worse out there. I don't think I'm going to get a good night's sleep until after the babies are born.”
“Trust me Kim, you won't get a good night's sleep after they're born either. I was old enough to remember when Billy and Eddie joined the family.”
“Will and Ed, they're juniors in college now, remember?”
“Seems hard to believe. They're still about thirteen in my mind.”
“Come on, get on your slippers and let's go downstairs.”
The twins had the Tribune in sections all over the dining room table while Shego's mom busied herself in the kitchen.
“I sent your dad down to the store to get pork chops for supper, I remember how you like them cooked. He'll be back in a minute to make the coffee. Everyone else has eaten. Eggs, toast, sausage for breakfast. There's milk and orange juice to drink until George is back.”
“Actually, mom, it didn't come up last night, but I'm a vegetarian now. I'd even prefer you didn't cook my eggs in the sausage fat.” Shego gave Kim a glare that warned, “Don't say a word.”
Susan had sat down, looking almost like she wanted to cry.
“What's wrong, Mom?”
“There are just so many changes in you. I don't know what to do. I had menus planned… What are you going to tell me next?”
“I think I'm all through with surprises for this trip.”
“Promise? And there'll be another trip?”
“I hope so. If you and Dad still want me to visit after you hear --”
“Of course we want you to come back. We just need some time before we feel comfortable about you and Kim. Now let me get cooking. Do you still like your eggs scrambled with cheese?”
Shego smiled, “That hasn't changed. How about you, Kim? You recommended your father's pancakes. You need to try my Mom's scrambled eggs.”
“Please and thank you, Mrs. O'Ceallaigh.”
“You're allowed to say Susan. The two of you go sit with the twins. I'll bring in your breakfast when it's ready.”
Shego paused to look at an elaborate coffee machine while Kim went into the dining room. “Morning Will, Morning Ed.”
“Wow, great job! How did you do it?”
“Pure luck. I knew I had a fifty-fifty chance of guessing right.” Having guessed right, she studied them closely to find some clues on telling them apart.
“Do you want a section of paper?” Will asked.
“No thanks. Did Team Go revive after that fight with Avarius a couple years ago?”
“Not really,” Ed told her. “Actually Team Go has done such a good job in the city that Hego can handle most of the stuff which is left by himself.”
“We're around if he needs us, but we're more interested in college. And Mego and his wife are DINKs --”
“Double-Income, No Kids. They spend all their money on themselves. He still comes around for some family stuff --”
“Yeah, they were here for Christmas,” Ed interrupted, “but the time we saw him before that was Thanksgiving. Having Shego home was pretty special for him to come over like last night.”
“And he doesn't even live that far away. I think he'd answer a call for help if he had to, but he wouldn't like it. Hego is the one who likes being a hero.”
Shego had come in during the conversation, “Sounds like that hasn't changed either.”
A gust of cold air announced Shego's dad was back from the grocery. There was the sound of conversation in the kitchen before he poked his head into the dining room. “Georgie, I need to know if you still eat fish before your Mom sends me back to the grocery. Or would you prefer a cauliflower steak?”
“I'll eat fish. But don't go now -- that's for supper. Kim and I want to see what you can do with that machine in there.”
He disappeared back into the kitchen and a few minutes later Susan came out with two plates of food and silverware. “Will, get your sister and Kim something to drink. What do you two want?”
“A large milk!”
“And a medium orange juice for me.”
As Kim finished the last of her sausage Shego's dad brought them each a huge cup of cappuccino. After serving them he sat down at the table. “Well, what are the plans for the day? Are you just going to laze around here or take Kim to see some of the sights?”
“I thought Kim and I might see the Bueno Nacho that Henry manages for lunch, then after lunch I hoped to get over to see Grandma Gill.” Shego saw her parents exchange worried looks. “She's still okay, isn't she? Did she die while I was gone?”
“No, she's just gotten more stubborn and angry with us for leaving the Catholic Church and joining the Episcopalians. This time I don't think she's spoken to us in four months. But you were always a favorite, she'll be glad to see you. I think I ought to give her a call and warn her you're coming -- just showing up at her door might give her a heart attack.”
“Is she still at her old place?”
“For the moment. She should have moved to a retirement home years ago. Sometimes I think she throws these tantrums so we won't bring up the subject.”
Kim whispered to Shego, “The twig never falls very far from the tree, does it?”
“Are you two ever going to get taller?” Shego asked her brothers.
“Afraid not, it looks like Hank and Matt used up all the tall in the family.”
“What are the two of you doing in college?” Kim asked.
“Engineering, electrical and mechanical.”
“You're each doing both, or one each?”
“I'm working on electrical,” Ed told Kim.
“And that leaves the mechanical for me. We work construction over the summers and would like to have our own firm some day.”
“Yeah, and one of us needs to marry a lady plumber so we can have that covered.”
Kim and Shego had a leisurely morning at the table talking with Shego's family and reading the paper, then headed upstairs to get dressed. They pulled on warm clothing and drove to the biggest Bueno Nacho in the country.
“I was here once with Ron, it was impressive,” Kim said.
Henry saw them come in and went over to join them. He pretty much filled one side of the booth, and the two women sat by each other.
“So, big brother, what do you do if you get an emergency signal during store hours?”
“I tell my assistants that I sometimes test them by leaving them in charge at a moment's notice. Or I sometimes use the 'I'm taking the cash to the bank,' excuse.”
“You haven't killed off grandma?”
“Not recently. I have to wait until all the staff changes before I can kill her off again. I don't know what I'll do if she ever dies.”
“Kim and I are going over after lunch. Do you have any message for her?”
“No, she'll just ask if I'm married or seeing anyone.”
“Want me to lie?”
“No, she'll want to know her name and the details.”
“I could tell her you're going out with Kim and you knocked her up.”
They both glared at her.
“Boy, you just try and make your grandma happy and everyone hates you. At some point I'm going to get back at Kim for last night -- but I'll spare grandma.”
“Be real careful with grandma,” Shego warned as she drove Kim into a working class neighborhood.
“Is she frail?”
“After this many years she could be. Mostly she's opinionated. Don't cross her. And watch what you say about the Catholic Church.”
“Okay, I'll only say good things about Catholics.”
“Better say nothing. Just smile and nod. She's an unreconstructed traditionalist who thinks Vatican II was a mistake, the only real masses are done in Latin, and the Pope isn't Catholic anymore. But the Church is never wrong.”
“Smile and nod, check.”
“Mom and dad left because they got tired of grandma and the Church telling them to have more babies.”
“How many kids did your grandma have?”
“Just my mom and her brother. She says she couldn't have any more and I believe her. I'm not sure if the twins were an accident or a last attempt to please grandma.”
Shego parked in front of a tiny house and walked to the door. “Stay behind me, Kim. She'll either give me a hug like Mom did last night, or she'll go for my throat for not talking to her in years. You need to be out of the line of fire either way.”
Kim could tell from Shego's expression that the woman who pulled them into her overheated home had gotten more frail since Shego last saw her.
“Come into the kitchen,” she insisted. “I'm making a Dobos Torta for you. The layers are almost out of the oven”
The young women stripped off their coats and sweaters before going in to help.
Shego was put to work at a double boiler making the chocolate filling and Kim stirred a mixture of sugar, butter, and water in another pan over high heat.
“I'm not much of cook,”
“You don't need to be a cook, just stir and tell me when it starts to brown.”
Forty minutes later the three sat down in the cluttered living room, each with a generous slice of the Dobos Torta and a mug of instant coffee.
“I can't believe you, Grandma. You spend hours making a fancy dessert and then serve it with instant coffee.”
“The torta I learned to make in Hungary. It hasn't changed in a hundred years. Every time I go to the department store the coffee pots are different. You can't find a real percolator any more. I can't figure out the switches on these new things.”
Shego's strategy appeared to be letting her grandmother talk as long as she wanted, on any subject she wanted, with the occasional smile and nod to show she was paying attention. Kim tried it for a while, then had the good fortune to fall asleep from the warmth of the room and the rich food.
While Kim slept Shego turned the conversation to her grandma's birth parents. “I can't remember your birth name, or the name of the village in Hungary. I've wondered if you had any relatives who survived the war and found groups who will search if you give them the information.”
“I've told you the story, no one came back after the war.”
“Sometimes people couldn't come back. There were millions of displaced persons after the war. Maybe someone didn't even know your parents had left you.”
“Why are you looking for relatives you've never met after not seeing us for years?”
“I'm also looking for you.”
“I've told you. As far as I'm concerned the couple who raised me were my parents. But here, I'll write down the little I know if you want it.”
At four Shego woke up Kim and they said their goodbyes. “Come back anytime,” Shego's grandmother invited. “Tell your husband he is welcome also.”
Kim smiled and nodded.
Before going in at the O'Ceallaigh home Shego and Kim walked around the house. “Well, there's a change.”
“I expected the tree house to be gone, but I didn't think the tree would be gone too.”
Kim held her stomach and doubled over. “Is this where the piece of comet fell?”
“Are you okay, Kim?”
“Well, it's either some residual comet energy or that torta your grandmother made, but Jacob and Esau just got into a fight.”
“I'm sorry Matt and Ilene couldn't make it tonight. Would you like another pork chop, Kim? You can see we have plenty.”
“No thank you, Mrs. O'Ceallaigh. Everything was delicious.”
“How about you, Sis?” One of the twins waved the plate of pork chops under Shego's nose, “Kim says they're delicious. They're just like Mother used to make. Come back to the other white meat.”
“Stop that, Ed,” his father said sharply. “We aren't doing anything to upset your sister this trip.”
“So it will be okay to tease her next time?” Will asked.
“That's it,” Susan said. “You two are doing the dishes tonight. And no splitting. You give Sharon any more trouble and you can't watch TV afterwards.”
After supper the twins cleared the plates and retired to the kitchen. “End of the month, I'm going up to pay bills,” Shego's father said before heading upstairs to the office. The three women sat at the dining room table and Kim got Mrs. O'Ceallaigh talking about Sharon as a baby.
Half an hour of potty training stories were all Shego could take, “I'm going up to talk with Dad.”
“How's it going, Dad?”
“Well, with three kids gone and the house paid for we sometimes have money left at the end of the month. Did Mom tell you she's a paraprofessional at a grade school library? It doesn't pay much, but it helps a lot. When your brothers graduate we can really start saving.”
“I meant more generally. How are you and Mom doing?”
Her father was silent for a time, “Well, since you brought it up… Were our fights what drove you away?”
“You thought that?”
“What were we to think? We almost ended in divorce court over that. But we decided to try some real counseling first. The last few years may have been the best of our marriage. I'm trying harder to communicate. She got on Verapamil; it's what they call a calcium channel blocker, for her high blood pressure. But it also gives her the little help she needs with the bi-polar disorder… Have you been tested for high blood pressure lately?”
“I'm not sure.”
“Well, better hope you inherited mine. The twins have mine. Poor Matt inherited your mother's. Henry is a little high, but probably won't need medication.”
“You know I was in the hospital for a couple months last spring. I think they'd have mentioned it if I had a problem.”
“You look so much like your Mom did, it's always nice to learn there's some of me in you too…
“If you didn't leave over our fights, why didn't you come home?”
“I'm not sure. I was mad at Hego for a long time. I'm not even sure I'm over that. And… Well, I'm not proud of some of the things I've done. I wasn't sure what kind of a welcome I'd get --”
“This is your home, you're always welcome, no matter what you've done.”
“Thanks… I don't know, over the years it just got easier to stay away. I didn't know what I could say. I didn't know what you'd say.”
“All we would of said is what we said last night, it's good to have you home. But your mom and I might have liked a little more warning that we were going to be grandparents. Two months before the due date is short notice.”
“Well, you can thank Kim that you got any. She had to twist my arm to get me here. I was too scared to come.”
“Then I think I'm going to like your Kim.”
“Um, Dad? I was wondering, did you ever sit the boys down and threaten them with death if they got a girl pregnant.”
“Nah. I just said if it happened they had to marry her.”