Margo shifted rather uncomfortably in the Box of Shame 3. Miss Hattie had mercilessly stuffed her into the smallest box, considering her the leader of the trio and probable reason for their return. Oh how Miss Hattie hated children. A few bitter tears slid down Margo's face, making her slightly bent glasses fall down. She soundlessly wiped her face on her sleeve and shifted again. Her legs cramped and it was all she could do to keep from crying out. She lay on her back and extended her legs to the top of the box, attempting to stretch her cramping calves. She finally curled into a ball the best she could in the confined space and let her thoughts and tears flow freely. How could she have believed that the man, Gru, would have taken care of them? She thought he'd come to enjoy their company at the amusement park. He'd even allowed them to have his face painted like a rabbit! She smiled faintly at this memory. He'd been so cheerful! Upon returning home, he'd let them go play and he'd even read them a bedtime story at Agnes's request. She couldn't believe he'd done that. He'd even used the finger puppets. That was what had surprised her the most. She never thought he would give them away after THAT. But he had. And now she and her sisters were stuck in boxes in the drafty entrance hall to the orphanage. She shivered and wrapped her arms tighter around her small body. She winced. Miss Hattie had not been happy to see them return, and after cramming Agnes and Edith into their respective boxes, she'd taken Margo into the alley behind the orphanage and beaten her. The harsh words still echoed in her ears.

"Stupid, worthless child. Even that scoundrel Mr. Gru wouldn't keep you. I am tired of having you around here. You're no good at selling cookies, and you're no good for adoption. You're almost too old to be adopted by anyone in their right mind anyway. Perhaps this will serve as a lesson for whatever you did to be sent back."

The massive lady then drew a yardstick from a nearby stack of scrap wood and began to hit Margo relentlessly. Even as Margo tried to run, she found herself backed into a corner. Thankfully the yardstick didn't hurt too much. It had damaged her glasses, but Margo had been through worse. It was when the woman snapped the yardstick against Margo's ribs that it really began to hurt. Miss Hattie slashed at Margo's arms for a while longer, the ragged, broken end of the yardstick leaving long scratches on her arms. Miss Hattie didn't stop until the girl was cowering in fear and pain in a corner, her bloodied arms covering her head as best as she could. Miss Hattie dropped the remains of the stick and grabbed Margo roughly by the wrist. She barely avoided crying out as the woman wrenched her wrist and she felt something pop. Margo was hauled back into the room, and thrown to the floor, where she lay dazed for a moment, hazel eyes fluttering in pain, shock and confusion. A shuffling alerted her to Miss Hattie's presence again but Margo scarcely had time to even think about moving before those same large hands with the manicured nails grabbed her roughly by the back of her shirt and belt and tossed her unceremoniously into a rather small box. Margo cringed but no further blows came. Instead, the top of the box was shut and something large and heavy placed on top. Light shone through just barely from a cutout handle. Shakily getting to her hands and knees, Margo made to look through the hole, and barely missed being poked in the eye by a pencil. Instead, it grazed her face, leaving a long dark scratch from her cheek to her ear. She fell back against the side of the box, earning a painful kick from that side. A piece of tape was roughly slapped over the hole, leaving Margo in complete darkness. The girl shuddered from fear and pain and lay her exhausted body down on the rough cardboard floor. Her head ached and her arms were sticky with blood and splinters.

Fading footsteps told her that the woman had finally left. Ignoring her slightly cramping legs, Margo shifted again and lay still in the dark, wishing sleep to claim her. She was not denied.

Margo's journey back to consciousness was a long, but not entirely unpleasant one. First she felt as if she were floating. Mercifully, she did not yet feel the hard floor under the cardboard, nor the stinging of her wounds. She felt generally peaceful as she drifted in a semiconscious state, half asleep. A loud boom barely made a difference to her state. Her ears registered it, but she didn't do anything. Beginning to sense the cardboard walls around her, Margo felt oddly secure, as if the walls were not trapping her inside, but wrapping around her like a warm blanket. A few more explosions did little to rouse her.

She was floating again, but this time through a fairly vivid desert, and upright this time. The conspicuous absence of one pyramid among a few others did not seem to trouble her in the slightest. The only thing on her dreaming mind was the thought of water. Water. Cool, fresh water. Like the water at Gru's house. They didn't have good water at the orphanage. The tap water tasted like chemicals and that was all they were given. At Gru's house there had been filtered water. Cold filtered water. She saw the sun burning above her in the empty desert, but did not feel the heat. If anything, a chill passed over her in the dry, barren landscape. She briefly wondered if she had a fever. She'd had to take care of Agnes with a fever once. The girl was burning up but she shivered as if she were freezing. Margo briefly wondered if the same was happening to her.

Suddenly, a low growl erupted from nowhere. Looking around, Margo saw nothing living in the desert, then she looked down at herself. Her stomach growled again. She was incredibly hungry. The last thing she'd eaten were some cookies at Gru's tea lesson. Gru. The more focused thought of their parting roused her slightly. The desert disappeared but did not take her hunger and thirst with it. She felt as if she were floating again, surrounded in a cardboard mantle. She felt more than heard footsteps through the tile floor. She didn't want to leave the place she'd found. The drifting sensation was quite wonderful, but this wish was not granted as a hard kick to the side of the box sent her crashing back to reality.

All at once she felt the pain of her bruises and cuts, the aching of her head, the incredible thirst and hunger. She tried to lift her head as a patch of light was now gleaming from the once taped hole. Margo struggled, but was either too weak, or her head was stuck to the cardboard. She briefly pondered the latter, before reaching a hand up to the side of her face. With a shock, she realized that her face was indeed stuck to the cardboard. The leathery texture of the skin around it told her that it was drying blood. In a flash she remembered the sharp pencil tearing through the skin across her cheek. That was where the blood had come from. Grimacing, Margo wrenched her head from the floor, wincing as she felt the cut open again.

Margo cautiously peered out of the hand hole. Out of one corner she saw the bulk of paisley fabric that was Miss Hattie, sitting on her desk chair. Ahead down the wide hallway was the door, frosted glass blocking her view of the outside world. Beside her she could tell from the sounds, were Edith and Agnes, also in boxes. For a moment she wished she could see them, but she realized that it was probably better for them to not see her in this state. She held a hand to her aching head. When would it ever end? When would somebody love her? Could somebody ever love her? Despair caught hold of her broken heart and would not let go. She lay down again and let silent tears fall. The pain kept her awake, but it did not stop her from drifting in and out of her memories. Reliving times both happy and sad, wonderful and horrible, Margo felt herself slipping back into unconsciousness. She swam in and out of a dizzy sleep for the rest of the day. Before retiring for bed, Miss Hattie kicked her box a few more times, bruising Margo's already sore body. An especially hard kick to the head sent the girl into merciful blackness once more.

The next morning, as Margo still lay unconscious from the night before, a man in an orange tracksuit/pajamas rushed into the orphanage. Miss Hattie greeted the stranger with her usual charm reserved only for adults, and asked what he wanted. With very few words, Miss Hattie agreed to release the three girls into his custody and he began opening boxes. Agnes and Edith, silent for once, complied to his orders to get into his vehicle. Miss Hattie stopped him before opening the third box.

"Don't bother opening that one just yet. The girl is very uncooperative. You'd do best to just take the box with her in it and open it where she can't run away."

Vector nodded and with a great effort, lifted the box containing a still unconscious Margo and heaved it into the passenger seat. They soon arrived at his house, where he again lugged the still unopened box into his command chamber. He sealed the two girls and the box containing the third into a glass containment chamber and waited. He knew his note would soon be found. It was only a matter of waiting until Gru showed up with the moon in hand.

Meanwhile, Agnes and Edith, puzzled by the fact that Margo was still in her box of shame, set to opening it as best as they could, calling her name. They received no response and so tried all the harder. They finally ripped it down the side to reveal Margo's unconscious body, which slid limply to the bottom of the sphere in which they were held. Both girls screamed and started shaking their oldest sister, shouting her name, but their cries elicited no response. While Gru had seen the two youngest girls on the screen Vector had showed him, Margo had been out of sight beyond the lowest reaches of the screen.

Soon Vector gained the moon he so avidly sought, and was now launching missiles at Gru. With a shock, he saw the missiles destroy his front gate instead and saw Gru rushing toward the main building. He activated the escape sequence and sent the top of his complex rocketing into the sky with Gru clinging on, closely followed by Dr. Nefario and various minions. Gru's hands slipped as they shot through the sky, but his own ship caught him and they began to speed up the chase as Dr. Nefario explained the Nefario effect. They were beginning to see the growing moon's effects on the ship ahead. It was listing heavily to one side, then rolling to the other as if a great rolling weight were throwing it off balance. Gru urged his vessel closer, determined to save the girls.

Inside Vector's ship, the moon shattered the glass sphere that trapped the three girls and the cardboard box. Margo was still unconscious and very pale. The two girls hauled their sister to the door they had come through earlier. After some manipulation, they managed to open it. The wind almost swept them out, but they held their ground. Edith peered out into the clouds flashing by them while Agnes clung to their sister, tears threatening to spill. All Margo did was lay there. At the rush of wind and noise, however, she began to regain consciousness. She moved slightly, but was too weak to do anything more. The other two had been pushed some food and water the previous day, but Margo had been given nothing. She was very weak and dehydrated.

Edith's shouting did not register in Margo's clouded mind, but Gru's response did.

"I'll save you girls! Just hold on! In a moment I need you to jump. I'll catch you!"

He's back? Her mind sparked in a moment of lucidity. She cracked one eye open only to see the moon flatten Vector. Hallucinations… she thought to herself, and closed her eye again. A persistent tugging on her ragged sleeve brought her back to reality once more as Agnes shouted.

"Something's wrong with Margo! She won't wake up!"

"Margo!" Gru shouted. "Where is she?"

So he can't see me… I must be below the door jamb. She thought vaguely.

"Down here!" Came Agnes's reply.

"Edith, Agnes, jump! Once you're safe, I'll get her myself." Gru shouted back. The small hands left her sleeve and a muffled "gotcha" came from below. Moments later there was a thump beside her.

"Margo…" Gru's voice came softly from right above her. She opened her eyes slightly to look up into a pair of intensely dark eyes in a pointed face. The normally sinister face was full of guilt and determination. He gently brought a hand to her battered face. He looked horrified.

"Who did this to you!" he exclaimed, taking in the dried blood and cuts on her face and arms as well as the unhealthy tinge to her skin and her half-opened eyes. He sighed, guilt washing over him in waves as the girl's eyes flickered. Her lips parted to make a response, but she was far too weak. Gru spoke again, looking straight into her eyes.

"Giving you up was the worst mistake I've ever made. I promise that I will never let you go again." He said gently scooping her up into his arms and striding toward the exit as the moon swept by, smearing Vector against the controls. Margo's eyes fell shut and she felt her exhausted body relax into his arms as she felt a lifting sensation. They had jumped. Gru landed in his ship and gave the order to fly still holding Margo in his arms. Too weak to do anything else, she settled with pondering his promise.

He admitted his mistake openly. No one I've ever known has done that before. She mused, and finally decided to take him at his word… for now. After all, the warm arms surrounding her were quite comforting, and like nothing she had ever experienced before. The girl had only known harshness and disdain, never love. She wasn't sure if this was it, but it was close enough for her. A small smile graced her pale face as she drifted away, this time into a comfortable sleep as they flew home. Home…