“Okay, Kim, why did my mom give me the big hug last night and tell me I was wonderful when I got in from talking with Hego?”
“I told her a little about Tibet.”
“What in the hell were you thinking?”
“I didn't tell her any details, just how you saved my life, Dr. Su and Ron, with your plasma heat even though it nearly killed you.”
“Why did you do that?”
“It's your own fault, when you said you didn't want a coat you said you wouldn't be keeping three people alive for days.”
“I really said that in front of Mom?”
“Okay, I apologize for thinking you were stupid. Is there any chance I was drunk?”
“Okay, I was stupid to say that. I don't want Hego to hear that story. I think I finally got it through his thick skull I don't want to be a hero.”
“Oh, you weren't being heroic,” Kim said and gave Shego a kiss on the neck. “You were being selfish.” Kiss. “You just wanted to keep your little cuddle buddy alive.” Kiss. “So she could service your depraved carnal lusts.” Kiss. “For years to come.” Kiss. Kim loved the little moan Shego made as the younger woman ran her tongue up her throat and began to gently suck.
“Stop it Kim, I don't want a hickey when I go downstairs for breakfast.”
“Then what do you want, mistress? Is there anything your depraved little heart desires for me to do for you?”
“Sure, go down and ask Dad to make me a cappuccino and then bring it up to me in bed.”
“You're no fun at all any more, you know that?”
“Kim, I'm making a list of all the things I want to do to you after the babies are born, a list of all the things I want you to do to me, and a list of what I want us to do to each other. But you'll need to be back in shape before some of it is physically possible.”
“Oh, can I work on the list with you?”
Shego smiled, and the two cuddled for a few minutes under the warm blankets and shared romantic fantasies.
“Hey, I thought you were going to go down and ask my dad to make a cappuccino for me.”
“You were serious?”
“I never joke about coffee. Coffee and God, the two subjects you should never joke about.”
“Three subjects: coffee, God, and the Spanish Inquisition.”
“I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition.”
“Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition--”
“We should have never watched Monty Python while we were in Canada. Okay, you go down first and have Dad start the cappuccino. I'll come down in five minutes and eat breakfast with you.”
Over breakfast Shego asked her mother if there were any plans for New Year's Eve.
“Well, your Dad's band is playing tonight at the Shamrock.”
“Hasn't anything changed in the years I was gone?”
“Well, Pat Hunter was killed in an auto accident four years ago. They have a woman playing the fiddle now, Mary Riley, I don't think you've met her.”
“That's not what I meant Mom. Are they still Three Drunken Irish Men?”
“And there are still five of them.”
“Well, with Mary on the fiddle they aren't five men anymore.”
“I just mean, they've been house band at the Shamrock since forever.”
“Oh, they're more than just a house band now, they've made quite a name for themselves in the Midwest… Let's see they've played at Michigan Irish Music Festival, Milwaukee's Irish Fest, Cleveland's Irish Cultural Festival, Cincinnati Celtic Music and Cultural Festival, and in Chicago, of course. I know there are even more than that. The Dublin Irish Festival--”
“Sorry, Dublin, Ohio. But the band and spouses went to Ireland a couple years ago. They got their picture on the posters when they played for the Greater Hartford Irish Music Festival… They still play to have fun, and everyone enjoys them. But they put out a couple CDs while you were gone. It will be old times to have everyone in the Shamrock tonight. Matt may even bring Ilene.”
“Hey, and I can order a Guinness.”
Susan stopped for a minute, and realized Shego had reached drinking age years earlier. “How old are you Kim? I don't think I ever asked.”
“Just nineteen -- twenty in a couple months.”
“Cradle robber!” one of the twins shouted at his sister, Kim thought it was Ed.
“Now, Ed. Just remember it means another designated driver tonight. I don't know what we'll do next year when you're both twenty-one.”
“Can't they just split and some of them stay sober?”
“Doesn't work that way, Kim. If one of me gets drunk we collapse back into one.”
“And can I ask how you learned that interesting fact?” Shego inquired.
“Gosh, Sis, look at the time. We, uh, promised someone we'd be over at his place to help him do, ah, something for a couple hours.”
“How long will you be gone?” Susan asked.
“About half an hour longer than it takes for you to forget this conversation,” Ed promised.
“If we're lucky,” Will added.
“Be back before five for early supper and music practice.”
After two days of more family drama than she had wanted Shego asked Kim if they could just stay around the house during the day and take it easy. While Kim had not had as much excitement as Shego the prospect of bundling up against the cold for sightseeing didn't thrill her.
They sat in the living room with the television on in the background for noise. Susan kept checking on them every fifteen minutes or so, asking if they wanted anything to eat or drink and giving Shego hugs. “You know who she reminds me of?” Kim whispered as Susan went back into the kitchen.
“You. You were just like that in Canada. You're going to make a great mommy.”
After lunch Susan asked, “Who wants to help me bake a cake and some cookies for tomorrow?”
“I'll give you a hand. If Kim is anywhere near as bad as she claims she in the kitchen we couldn't eat anything she worked on.”
“Now, that isn't nice to say.”
“I hate to admit it, but she's right. Microwave popcorn is the limit of my cooking skills.”
“They say the way to a man's heart… Oh, never mind.”
Kim tried to work on the Tribune crossword in the dining room, where she could ask Shego for help and smell what was baking, but her cell phone kept ringing as various friends and family called to ask how she was doing and to wish her a happy new year, and finally Kim started making calls to those she hadn't heard from yet.
While Kim shouted greetings to Shego from a couple callers Shego mostly felt forgotten and jealous of all the attention Kim received. If she knew for certain where Drakken was she would have called to wish him a happy new year just so her mother would know she knew someone. The thought of calling Global Justice even crossed her mind.
The Wegos were back at four-thirty, and six of them rearranged the furniture while four of them brought in the contents of a small room or large closet off the living room. Kim knew she'd never seen this many instruments in a home before, she wasn't sure if the Middleton High School orchestra had been this big.
“Hey, I'm here! Are the drums out?”
“Matt! You made it. And Ilene, come in and meet Sharon and her friend Kim.”
Ilene was a pretty woman, but cold and a little stiff in the informal chaos of the O'Ceallaigh living room.
“Not much for supper, just a little snack. George doesn't want to feel stuffed while he's up with the band and the rest of us will be eating all night.
After eating, people moved back to the living room. Susan set three chairs near to the door to the dining room. “Ilene, sit with Kim and me. You knew what you were marrying into. Oh, Sharon, can you still play anything or will we women not be represented at all?”
“Shego plays an instrument?”
“Oh, yes. She was the family pianist until… Well, she also played recorder and was very good on the flute and was trying to learn the piccolo. She has very nice lips --”
“KIM! You're embarrassing my mother!”
“Sorry, I just meant to embarrass you.”
“And, um, a good voice although it was never clear whether she was more of a high alto or low soprano.”
“So, do we get an all Wego orchestra?” Kim asked a Will.
“No, doesn't work that way. There could probably be fifty of me playing the same piece on the clarinet. But if I'm playing more than three different instruments at once the quality goes down.”
“You might not notice it until five or six different instruments,” a second Will told her.
“But Dad would notice.”
“Still, jam sessions with myself always made practice fun.”
“Georgie, are you in any shape to play or not?”
“I don't think so. I'm too rusty.”
“Well, take something back with you and get back in practice for the next time you're here. But your voice still sounds lovely -- could we ask you up to sing Danny Boy at the Shamrock tonight?”
“Dad! That is such a cliché.”
“Yeah, but there are a lot of people who get all their Irish music from Bing Crosby movies. And they'll be out at the Shamrock tonight calling for that and the other chestnuts. It would mean a lot to me if you would.”
“Can I look at the music and make sure I remember all the words?”
“Sure, let me know if there are any other old standards you feel comfortable with.”
“Kim, what do you call a person who hangs around with musicians?”
“I don't know.”
Matt groaned and gave her a rimshot. “Let me guess, you brought a new audience just so you could tell some of those old jokes.”
It was easy to tell what the Wegos played, since there were usually three of each on a number. Will had inherited Shego's spot on the piano bench and was a single reed man -- playing a clarinet and different saxophones on different numbers. Ed worked with brass, most often the coronet, trumpet, and trombone. Matt had a couple other percussion instruments by his drum kit.
“Did he ever get any good with the marimba?” Shego whispered to her Mom.
“No, dear, I'm afraid it got moved to the basement.”
Henry mostly played bass, but got out his cello for a couple numbers and once a viola. And George seemed to play everything. Shego tried to remember the list of all the instruments he played in the family jam session when Kim asked.
“Okay, I'm pretty sure he was on guitar, banjo, dulcimer, fife, flageolet, ocarina, bagpipes, accordion, Jew's-harp, and harmonica. He'll have most of those and some more at the Shamrock tonight. Part of the fun in watching the band is figuring out what he's going to play next.”
When vocals were needed the Wegos provided tenor voices and Hego displayed a respectable baritone. Mostly, however, the music was instrumental and Kim began to understand Shego's eclectic tastes. They played a bit of everything and invited Kim and Ilene to try and stump the band -- which the pair failed to do.
After about an hour and a half George called an end to the session. “I need to get to the Shamrock. Henry, will you ride with Mom and me? Matt, are you and Ilene coming?”
“Sorry Dad, I need to get to a party with some people in the office.”
“Well, we'll miss you.”
“Shego and Kim, can you bring Will and Ed over after they clean up?”
“Ten or twelve of us provide the fastest pick up we can manage after a family jam session,” Ed told them on the ride over.
“Yeah, too many of us and we just get in our way.” Will added.
“Over here,” Hego called as they walked in. He and Susan were at a round table for six with a good view of the stage.
The Shamrock proved to be larger and more respectable than Kim had imagined, with the restaurant taking much more space than the bar area. But on New Year's Eve it appeared that the bar was busier than the kitchen.
“They're in great form tonight,” Susan whispered to Kim after about an hour.
Kim took her word for it, she had never heard such a collection of traditional Irish music - some in Gaelic, contemporary Irish rock, Irish-American standards, and some works whose genre she couldn't place. Most of the audience had known and heard them for years and joined in on a verse of Robbie O'Connell's 'You're Not Irish'.
The next day I was on my way for Chicago I was bound
I was ready to give it another try and not let it get me down
From the stage they looked quite friendly, but I hardly sung one word
When a voice called out from the back of the room, and what do you think I heard?
You're not Irish you can't be Irish you don't know Danny Boy
Or Tura Lura Lura, or even Irish Eyes
You've got the hell of a nerve to say you came from Ireland
so cut out all the nonsense and sing McNamara's Band
Kim couldn't remember hearing a word from George O'Ceallaigh, although his playing was a major part of every number. At the end of 'You're Not Irish,' the principal singer spoke into the mike. “And some o' you who've been hearin us for years will remember George's daughter Sharon who used to sing with us some nights. Well, she's in town tonight, and if ya put your hands together we may get her up on stage.”
Shego appeared stunned by the volume of applause, but suspected it was more for the sake of her dad than people who actually remembered her. But when the singer said, “Come up, Princess, give us 'Danny Boy',” she went up.
They coaxed another standard from Shego before she returned to the table, flushed and happy.
Her mother kissed her on the cheek, “You sound beautiful.”
“Hey, good job,” added Ed.
Kim simply looked upset.
“What's wrong, Kim?”
“You gave me a used pet name!”
“What do you mean?”
“He called you Princess.”
“There's room for more than one Princess in the world. There'll probably be a couple more before too long. Although maybe you get promoted to Queen Mother at that point.”
Shego suggested that Kim share an order of potato skins and a huge corned beef sandwich with her while they listened. Kim leaned over and whispered, “You're a vegetarian, remember?”
“Damn.” Fortunately the question hadn't seemed to register with anyone.
“Ed, want to split a sandwich? Your sister recommended the corned beef.”
As she ate her veggie wrap Shego looked wistfully over at the corned beef.
Kim stuck with Diet Coke even though Shego suggested milk. Shego ordered three pints of Guinness over the course of the evening and probably drank less than two since Will and Ed kept sneaking sips whenever Susan wasn't looking.
“Kim, come outside while I have a cigarette.”
“You don't smoke. OUCH!”
“Kim, come outside. It's good for a bruised leg.”
“Why did you kick me in there?”
“Because it was eleven fifty-five and I know my family would not be comfortable with me giving you a New Year's kiss.”
“You two missed all the fireworks at midnight.”
“No we didn't, Hego, “ Kim assured him.
“What's the red stuff on your face, Sis?”
“I don't know. I'll go to the bathroom and check.” As she slid her chair back from the table Shego hissed at Kim, “I told you not to wear lipstick tonight.”
Some of the partygoers left the Shamrock right after midnight, but it was almost 1:30 in the morning before Kim and Shego crawled into bed.