Shego coming home was the biggest thought in Hego's mind. He wasn't sure about her being with Kim, and he wasn't ready to be an uncle. He would have been ready for uncleship if Mego had announced Ilene was pregnant, but this news about Shego and Kim was too confusing. It was the fact Shego was home which was important. And to Hego that could only mean she wanted to resume her role as a hero.
Unfortunately she hadn't said anything about her plans, but she had stayed away while in her life of crime. The very fact she came home said she wanted to go back to the way things were, even if she didn't realize it yet. All he needed was some emergency to force her back into costume and take her proper place. The problem with emergencies is that they never happen when you want one.
Kim woke up and rolled over to look at Shego. The pale woman was on her back, snoring softly. She had apparently slept much better last night. Kim watched her for a few minutes, then decided that after a good night's sleep what Shego needed was a pleasant awakening. As Kim's hand slid up Shego's leg the light snoring stopped. Shego's eyes stayed closed, but there was a smile on her lips as Kim's fingers began tickling her inner thighs, slowly moving towards Shego's pubic hair.
“Better stop that now, Kim.”
“You're no fun.”
“And you never let me do anything to you at your house, I've got the same problem.”
“Exactly. I think eventually we get over it and can enjoy ourselves under the same roof as our parents. But I don't think today is the day.”
Kim gave Shego another minute or two of petting, hoping she would change her mind.
“Please, Kim. We need to go down to breakfast now.”
“Maybe we can find one of those cheap dives that rent by the hour you warned my mother about.”
“Or maybe we can start the return trip late enough that we can't make it back to Middleton in one day and have to spend a night in a motel along the road.”
“Okay, that one has my vote.”
After breakfast Shego took Kim on a driving tour of the Loop, the younger woman wasn't up to long walks. “After the kids are born we have to go through the Art Institute. The big Seurat, Sunday on the Grande Jatte, is there, and the biggest collection of Ivan Albrights in the world.”
In the afternoon Kim took a nap while Shego talked with her mother.
A persistent buzzing woke Kim up. She finally located the source of the noise, a chest of drawers, and opened the drawer to find some sort of odd device that looked vaguely like a small cell phone. The word GO was stamped on it in multi-color letters. She instinctively pushed the green button…
“Hello? Is that you, Shego?” the feminine voice asked.
“No, I think she's downstairs. Should I get her for you?”
“Yes! I mean, no. Hold on a minute.” There was a pause from the other end of the conversation, along with muffled sounds as if someone had a hand over a mouthpiece to cover the sound of talking.
“All right, whoever you are, tell Shego that I'm holding her brother at Jackson Park, the place where the Gang of Evil tried to bury Team Go in a time capsule. Tell her she has until three-thirty to get here and try and rescue him.”
“Uh, who is this? And which brother are you talking about?”
Kim could hear a sigh at the other end, “Tell her Bella Negra called--”
“Could you spell that?”
“B-E-L-L-A second word N-E-G-R-A. And it's her brother Hego.”
“Okay, I'll give her the message.”
“Uh, thank you.”
Kim went downstairs to find Shego, uncertain if she was being asked to participate in a farce or a very clever trap.
Shego's mother, however, sent her back upstairs. “She asked if she could get online for awhile. She's probably been on long enough -- we only have a dial up connection.”
Kim walked into the office without knocking and a startled Shego quickly turned off the browser. “Were you reading porn again? Don't you know that will make hair grow on your palms?”
Shego blushed, “I was taking a sample test.”
Kim wondered what sort of test Shego might be taking, but decided the call about Hego took higher priority. “There was a call on this odd looking phone in the room--”
“I guess so.”
“I want to come with you.”
“No, Kim. Not at seven months. And your guess about a farce is probably right.”
“But what if it is some kind of trap?”
“Kim, Bella Negra dropped from sight years ago. You say this woman asked for me by name?”
“The only people who know Shego is in town are family. I was with mom, and we've never even met Ilene. It's some stupid stunt from Hego. I'm sure he's the only one who still carries a Go-phone.”
“But what if he was captured and she used his? Call me when you know you're safe. I want to know everything is okay.”
“I sure will.”
Susan turned her head to avoid watching their good-bye kiss.
The bitter cold insured that the park was almost deserted; certainly no one was close to the two individuals in the wooded area on the eastern edge of the property.
“Come on, Bella, take off the coat.”
“No, it's cold. Shego can't be here for another ten minutes at the least -- it will probably be more like twenty.”
“Okay, but help get me tied and hanging from this limb. I've got to be up here when she arrives.
After getting his arms tied Hego lifted his legs and let Bella move the park bench back into position, leaving him suspended in mid-air.
“Can you taunt me or something when she gets here? And please, take off the coat.”
“I'll take off the coat in five minutes. Look this is getting more complicated than you promised.”
“Take the coat off now, I can see someone coming…” “Damn, she's not wearing her Team Go costume.”
Shego walked up, wearing black stretch pants and a dark green sweater. The black woman hissed at her, but Shego ignored her and addressed Hego.
“How stupid do you think I am? This woman doesn't even look like Bella.”
“I am so Bella!”
“Where did Hego find you? Central casting? The real Bella wouldn't have let herself get out of shape like that.”
“I am so Bella!” the woman screamed, rushing Shego.
Shego slapped her, hard, and she fell crying. She sat on the concrete and gingerly felt her cheek.
“Look, lady. It's a good costume. But it really doesn't fit you. Go home while I get a stick and beat on my brother.”
“But I really am Bella.”
“Fine. When was the first time we fought? I know the real Bella would remember that.”
“I… It was a long time ago. I don't remember. The Aquarium? The Museum of Science and Industry?”
“See, you're not even a good fake. I first fought the real Bella at the Oriental Institute.”
“Was that our first battle? Didn't I try to tip one of the Assyrian bulls over on you?”
Shego stared, open-mouthed, at the dark woman in the black leather outfit. “You really are Bella?”
“Damn it! That's what I've been telling you.”
Shego extended a hand and helped the woman to her feet. “Put on your coat, we need to talk.”
“Shut up, you moron.” Turning back to Bella, “Why are you here?”
“Well, Hego offered me five hundred dollars to pretend I captured him. You'd show up and rescue him.”
“I can guess what he wanted. You took five hundred dollars to get beaten up?”
“I didn't think you'd beat me up. I used to win half of our fights. I thought I could look good for a few minutes, then take a dive. I needed the money. It's cold this winter and money is real tight.”
“Did you get your money?”
“Sure. I didn't think he'd stiff me, but I wanted to see the cash.”
“Good, then you're buying the first round, come on.”
“Shego? Bella? When I'm hanging like this I've got no leverage to use my strength… I really need help getting down.”
He couldn't believe they didn't hear him as they walked away.
“Shego? … Bella? … Anybody? … Help!”
With two long necks in front of them, they sat across from each other in a booth away from the bar. It was early and they only had to share the tavern with a few serious drinkers who left the two women alone.
“What happened to you?”
“A few years in prison. I got out. Got married. Two kids. Kids do a number on your figure.”
“You were really something ten years ago.”
“Maybe. I'm glad that's over.”
“Hold on, I got to make a call.” Shego pushed her speed dial, “Kim? … Yeah, I'm fine… He wasn't in danger until I got there, he was just being stupid… Love you too, bye.”
“Who's Kim? Significant other or did you get married.”
“I guess significant other covers it… We talk about getting married.”
“Is he in town with you, can I meet him?”
Shego opened her mouth to correct Bella, then remembered Kim could be a man's name. “Actually, I think we might have some questions about babies. You said you had two kids -- could we come by your place sometime in the next couple days and talk with you?”
“You're thinking about a family?”
Shego smiled, “More than just thinking.”
“Oh, Shego, you'll make a wonderful mommy. Let me give you my phone number. Call first and I'll try to make time.”
“Do you hear anything from the old Gang of Evil?”
“No. Avarius still makes the newspapers every so often. I think he's the only one still in crime around here. I hear Obtinus and Serpent King are dead. They say Serpent King died of food poisoning. Is that just too ironic or what? Hellpike moved to California -- I haven't heard from him in years. Oh, I still see Dexter all the time, he has a little pharmacy near me that I use -- sometimes I forget he was the Alchemist.”
“You're telling me you use a drugstore run by the Alchemist?”
“Sure, why not? He's a good pharmacist.”
“I'm sorry, but I have trouble with that. I just remember the time he turned Hego into a big blue rabbit. Mego said he used his elixir of forgetfulness on me once, but I don't remember.”
“Oh, speaking of which, can you forget I told you that?”
“Well, Dexter never spent time in prison. The police don't know what happened to the Alchemist, he just retired.”
“Is he keeping his nose clean?”
“I think so.”
“Then I'm sure as hell not going to rat on him. I only did a few months and it was enough -- I still have charges facing me.”
“That really was you? I figured it was just someone stealing your identity.”
“Here's to new beginnings.” They clinked beer bottles and took another swig.
“Can I buy another round?”
“No, I need to get home. I told the sitter I wouldn't be this long. Can I use your cell phone to call a cab?”
“I'll drive you. I think I can navigate on two beers in an hour and half.”
After supper Kim and Shego helped clear the table. Shego offered to dry as Susan washed the dishes, and Kim sat on a chair to the side and occasionally joined in their conversation. Their talk was interrupted by a furious pounding on the door, and a minute later one of the twins popped into the kitchen.
“Hego's at the door. He wants to talk to Shego. He's really pissed.”
“Oh, dear, I've never seen him drunk.”
“I don't think he means drunk, Mom, he means Hego's angry. And I'm pissed too. We'll take this outside. I don't think you and Dad want to hear it.”
“Can I get you your coat?” Kim offered.
“No, I can keep myself warm without a coat. Don't worry, I'm not going to spend days keeping three other people alive.”
Susan looked so puzzled at the remark Kim felt the need to give Shego's mother a cleaned up version of the story.
“Walk, now!” Shego told her brother. “I don't want Mom to get upset hearing what a jerk you are. We'll go around the block until this is over.”
The two would have been an odd sight to anyone who stared out into the dark. Despite the cold neither was warmly dressed. Hego was invulnerable to even greater cold than the weather threw at them that night, and the greenish glow around Shego kept her warm. They met no one else on the dark sidewalk.
“How could you put Bella at risk like that,” Shego demanded. “I might have hurt her by accident.”
“I knew you wouldn't. You're a hero. Heroes don't hurt people.”
“I'm no hero. And you're sure as hell no hero pulling a stunt like that. Didn't you realize she was completely out of shape? She hasn't trained in years. You risked her life.”
He was silent for one entire side of the block. “Okay, maybe I screwed up today. But you came to rescue me.”
“I came to beat the snot out of you for worrying Kim.”
“No, you came to rescue me. We were given great powers to do great things. You knew what was right and you did it.”
“That had nothing to do with super powers. You're my brother. I came to see if you were really acting as stupid as it sounded like you were. I wish I never got any powers from that damned comet.”
“What? Come on, Sis, it was the greatest day of our lives.”
“It was the greatest day in your life, maybe. Not mine. It screwed up my life forever.
“You got to be the football star. Matt got to hide in the girl's locker room. What did the twins do? I was gone. I bet they went to school and stayed home and watched TV.
“I got to be the little green freak that the cheerleaders and popular kids made fun of -- you even said I should keep wearing glasses after the comet fixed my eyesight.”
“You got to fight crime. They made action figures of you!”
“I just wanted to be normal!”
“But super is so much better. Why didn't you do more with it? Mr. Lipsky always thought that the fact you had the change in skin pigmentation meant you had the greatest power of all us kids. Why didn't you ever try to develop the potential -- learn everything you were capable of doing?”
Shego remained silent for anther side of the block, trying to get her temper under control before replying and cursing herself for not beating him with a stick that afternoon when she had the chance.
“Look, maybe it's a sign of divine providence that the comet fragment landed in the yard of the kid who had the greatest desire in the world to be a super hero. But that was your dream. Can you accept that it wasn't my dream? Can you allow that maybe I didn't want a rock from outer space to dictate my life? That I just wanted to live my life?”
“If there was no comet, what would you have wanted to do with your life?”
“I don't know. I never got a chance to learn what I wanted to do. I was always being told 'with great power comes great responsibility.' I was always being lectured on what a real hero would do. I was trapped by your 'heroes do this' or 'heroes don't do that.'”
“You make it sound like that was my fault.”
“It was your fault, damn it! You were my big brother. I looked up to you. I believed you. I wanted to please you.
I spent a third of my life trying to be what my big brother told me I should be. When I realized you were wrong and I spent one third of my life on the run when I tried to reject everything you taught me. You've messed up two-thirds of my life. I've lived to please you. I've lived to hurt you. I want to live to please me.”
“What do you want now Shego?”
“I don't know what I want. I feel like I'm finally where I can do whatever it is I really want for the first time -- no trying to please you, no trying to hurt you… Oh, I know something I want, as far as you're concerned Shego is dead.”
“You hung that stupid name on me when I was, what? Three? It has run my life. Other people can use it -- but not you, not any more. I'm Sharon. I'm Georgiana. I'm Georgie, if you want. I'll answer to Sis, or even to 'Hey, You,' but no more Shego from you. As long as you use that stupid name you think I'm going to get back into costume and be a hero again. Give it up. If you call me Shego again I'm gone for another seven years. You got that?”
They walked around the block again in dead silence.
A hundred feet before they reached their parent's home Hego asked stiffly, “Do you want to go in now?”
“Yeah. Oh, I have one more thing to say to you.”
“Thank you for saving my life last spring.”
“You're welcome, Sheeaaaron.”
“Good save, big brother.”
When they reached the front walk of the O'Ceallaigh home Shego attempted to give Hego a quick hug. “I missed you,” she said simply.
She failed to make it a quick hug because his arms had gone around her, hugging her close, “God, we all missed you.” When she looked up at him she thought she saw him crying. She couldn't be certain -- her own eyes were watering. Damn plasma power didn't usually affect her that way.