Classes had ended a week earlier, but Shego had been back on campus to talk with her faculty advisor. Mustapha Kemal took a break from grading finals to chat with her about fall classes. The conversation had lasted longer than expected, but Shego was still in a good mood even though she arrived back as Casa Possible later than she had expected.
“Hi, Honey, I'm home!” she called to no one in particular after walking in the front door.
“Hello,” Bonnie called from upstairs.
“Supper in forty minutes,” Ron shouted from the kitchen.
“Come in here,” Kim requested from the living room. Shego moved to the living room doorway and froze. Kim was on the chair with Kasy on her lap, while a tall man sat on the couch holding Sheki on his. A tall man with recent burn scars on either side of his head.
The pale woman's mouth went dry, but she managed to blurt out, “What are you doing here?”
“You don't seem glad to see me. I'm hurt.”
“Do you know him?” Kim asked. “He's from the government; he's here to help.”
“You don't remember him?” Shego asked. “The man who threatened the babies three months ago? The man who got the plasma haircut?” She turned her attention back to the tall man, “Hand over the baby.”
“But she seems to like me,” he laughed as Sheki grabbed his nose. “And you're sure as hell not going to throw any fire at me while I'm holding her.”
“What do you want?” Shego demanded.
“I'm here to help you, just like Kim said. And if you promise to keep your temper I'll hand this little one over to your friend so that the two of us can talk.”
Shego nodded, and the burned man handed Sheki to Kim. “Is there somewhere with a little more privacy?” he asked.
“The library, or out on the porch.”
“I'd prefer not going into your library again.”
They sat on the Adirondack chairs on the front porch, as far as they could from each other and still converse without raising their voices loud enough to be heard by anyone else.
“Zach wants you to stay out of prison in case he ever needs your services,” the burned man explained. “The bad news is that he isn't finding much he can do to help. You can get someone to say you're an asset to national security at the trial, but at the moment that looks like about it. He's also looking at getting you a pardon if you get sent to prison, but that one is a little harder to pull off. Pardons are a little too public. You'd probably have to stay in prison awhile until public scrutiny was over.”
“I can't imagine you mind telling me I'm screwed.”
“I wouldn't mind seeing you behind bars, but my job is to ask if you see anything we can do for you.”
“Why send you? Is that a little more of Zach's sadistic streak?”
“No. This may sound weird, but you're my good luck charm. I've got a rep now -- I'm the man who went toe to toe with you and has the scars to prove it. No one knows I was bawling. And I'm the man who single-handedly broke into Falsetto Jones villa and stole the secrets that could destroy the Agency. People think I'm hell on wheels. And your recommendation caught Zach's attention; he's using me a lot on inter-agency affairs. There's a lot more of that since nine eleven and I'm on the ground floor. If I can keep you out of prison my stock could go even higher.”
“Look, uh, I'm sorry. I've forgotten your name.”
“David, David Donner.”
“Look, Mr. Donner, I'll be grateful for any help you can deliver. But right now it looks like my lawyer is doing all she can.”
“Call Zach's office if you can think of anything we can do.”
“Thanks, Mr. Donner, I'll call if I can think of anything.” But in her mind she was thinking, “I hope I never have to see you again.”
In their frequent meetings to discuss the direction of the defense Shego realized she felt a sense of unease around Alice Armstrong. The older woman seemed almost too attentive, too willing make an extra effort to find a good appointment time. It made the younger nervous, afraid the judge might be coming on to her. She finally broke down and expressed her concerns.
“You make me a little nervous, it's like you're paying too much attention to me. I'm feeling a personal interest that I don't like.”
The judge leaned back in her chair, “You could be right.”
“I want you to know I'm committed to Kim. I'm not going to cheat on her.”
“Good, I'm in a committed relationship with Roberta -- have been for more than thirty years.
“Look, you are cute, and Roberta lets me look if I don't touch. But as for personal interest… Well, lawyers, doctors, and clergy have a rule we're all supposed to follow -- don't get personal with your clients. I violated that badly once when I was a young lawyer. I feel in love with a woman who I was defending on grand theft auto and bad checks.”
“Look, we all change over the years. The point was that she ended up in prison for three years. It was hard on both of us. I'd like to spare you and Kim that kind of separation. But the truth is that I want it for Kim more than I want if for you. Nothing against you, Shego, but a lot of people love her in this town. If you're really what she wants I want her to have you.”
“I can live with that. I'd like her to have me too. Repeatedly.”
“Enough of that,” the judge laughed, “My second interest in you is pure business. And I will admit it isn't about you hiring us to defend you in this case. Do you know what kind of law you want to pursue?”
“I think the fact I'm not sure of the question is your answer.”
“The law is like medicine, there are a lot of specialties, tax law, family law, bankruptcy, civil, criminal… Anyway, there is a chance you'll go for corporate and patent law and get hired as in-house counsel for Lipsky and Load. I think they're a firm with a future. But if you don't specialize in corporate and patent law you still might be able to influence where they bring their business. We've got some good corporate people in my firm. Even if you turn out to be a poor lawyer, you'll turn a profit for any firm that hires you if you can bring the Lipsky and Load account with you. If you turn out to be a decent or good lawyer you'll make a lot of money for your firm. I want you to consider Armstrong, Bennett, and Dashwood when you start sending out your résumés.”
Shego breathed a little sigh of relief, “So your interests in me are purely for Kim's sake and mercenary?”
“Sorry, Shego, I hope that doesn't bother you.”
“No, it actually makes me feel much better. Mercenary interests are something I understand.”
“Good, then get the hell out of my office and try to clear up a couple more of those minor charges against you in Europe. You're going to have to convince a jury you want to go straight.”
“Yes, Boss,” Shego laughed as she headed for the door. “I'll call you in a week when I'm back.”
“Leave your schedule with Kim in case I need to contact you sooner,” Alice bellowed as the door closed.
By the end of the summer Shego had cleared away charges against her in eight countries. England had been the greatest difficulty, and at one point she wasn't sure she'd be able to earn the amnesty she was offered, but she finally cleared that hurdle. Before she left the office of Scotland Yard she was informed that for the next three years she would be considered persona non grata by Her Majesty's government. In the taxi, on the way to Heathrow and a flight home, Shego smiled and philosophically reflected that sometimes it was better to be unwelcome than wanted.