Where the Heart Is, by DoofusPrime


Past

XX

Although it was playtime, Susan Go was not in a playful mood.

The rest of the children were enjoying a break from their classes, skipping and cavorting around a playground where recess was held behind their small schoolhouse. It was a new school, where Susan Go had gone with her brothers – minus the twins, who were still too young for school – ever since they had moved to their new foster home . Susan had not made friends with any of the other children. She had heard whispers among her teachers that were peppered with words such as 'uncooperative' and 'antisocial', but she didn't care. The school was a dull place, the children boring and obnoxious.

Her brothers weren't as bad as the other kids, although the idyllic days spent at her old home with her siblings and parents were gone, along with her parents themselves. Ever since that meteor had hit the treehouse in which she once played with her brothers, sending flaming debris raining down on her parent's adjacent home, catching them by surprise. It had collapsed parts of the roof and spread quickly. Her parents didn't make it out in time.

Susan had no idea how she and her brothers had survived the meteor's direct impact - much less how they were imbued with the strange alterations that were beginning to develop in their bodies. The teachers had talked about puberty in health class before, but Susan was still a bit too young for that, and she had read enough to know puberty did not involve pulsating green fire. It was yet another way in which she and her brothers were different. Apart. Separated from the other children by an invisible chasm, growing wider by the day.

Across the chasm, Susan watched the other children play. Hopskotch on the blacktop, swinging from the jungle gym, digging in the sandbox. Madison was antisocial, like her, and she noticed him swinging alone on a swing set. The adjacent swings hung empty, and as one boy tried to grab one, Madison threw him a glare that sent him scampering away. Henry, who was the oldest of her brothers and already looking bulkier than any of the other children at the school, was doing one-handed push ups in the middle of the playground. Several female fans were gathered around him as they watched his physical feats.

A commotion began to rise in volume, coming from one corner of the playground where the blacktop ended and met with a grassy area dominated by the sandbox and a single large tree. Susan noticed two children beneath the tree, one of whom she recognized: Avery. She hadn't talked to him personally, but he had an eccentric and aggressive air that made him stand out among the other students. He looked bizarre, thought Susan. Scrawny, hook-nosed, a little hunchbacked. At the moment, despite his scrawny size, he seemed to be bullying another child.

"Lunch money!" shouted Avery. "I demand it, nowww!"

The girl squealed and shrank back against the force of Avery's demands, which were really not that forceful in Susan's opinion. She watched indifferently, along with several other children, as Avery began to push the girl, continuing to demand lunch money. Susan thought about her strange powers as she watched her two feuding classmates. She had been testing them recently. Exploring their effects. She began to think she was looking at a good opportunity.

"Hey Avery!" she said as she approached the two children beneath the tree.

Avery looked away from his bullying to see the new girl who was approaching him. He grinned, anticipating another potential source of lunch money.

"What do you want?"

Susan opened her mouth to speak -

"You leave her alone!"

She turned at the sound of the booming voice beside her. It was her brother, Henry. Trying to grab the spotlight, as usual. Henry nudged her aside with his considerable bulk as he approached Avery in an exaggeratedly masculine fashion, swaggering back and forth with each step.

"And what if I don't?" cackled Avery.

Henry cracked his knuckles and balled his hands into fists as he approached the tree, and Susan noticed a faint blue glow began to flicker around his body. Her brow went down, darkening her eyes in anger; she wasn't going to let him get in the way when she had been planning to test her own powers out first.

Susan raced past her brother and, not wanting to try something as boring as the punch that Henry would inevitably throw, she slashed at Avery in a clawing motion. She made sure to focus on the strange, faintly tingling feeling that had lurked deep within herself ever since she had clawed her way out of the wreckage of the treehouse. The feeling had increased over time, becoming more familiar, more controllable. As Susan's swipe came in contact with Avery, she marveled at the green glow that she had played with in the past, summoned to illuminate the private darkness of closets where she had hidden herself to test her abilities. Now it was out in the open. In broad daylight. Avery yelped and fell back as his shirt tore, his exposed skin unbearably hot.

"What was that?" he screeched.

"A taste of what you're going to get from me, evildoer!"

Henry had arrived at the scene seconds after his sister. Avery scrambled up from the ground and tried to throw his own punch, but he missed, only to find himself lifted bodily into the air. Avery feebly tried to hit Henry while caught in his vice-like grip, but ended up flying through the air as Henry threw him into the sandbox with a streak of blue energy. The other children laughed and pointed as Avery hit the ground, sending up a plume of sand, a pink shovel, and several surprised plastic army men.

"You'll pay for that!"

Avery was about to get up from the sandbox when the other children backed away nervously at the sight of Mr. Corkle, who had just come stomping out of the schoolhouse. He grabbed Avery and pulled him out of the sandbox while pointing an accusatory finger at Susan and Henry. Madison had joined his two siblings around the tree to see what was going on, and the teacher looked at him angrily as well.

"The Go family again, is it?" he said. "Always causing trouble. You two in particular," he said as he narrowed his eyes at Susan and Madison. Madison stuck out his tongue, while Susan stared at him impassively. "And this time you're involved too, Henry – I'm disappointed! Recess is over, everyone. Everyone except Avery and the Gos, return to your classroom."

The children groaned and went inside as Mr. Corkle stood with the troublemakers. He shook his head, looking like he was about to let out another one of his long winded lectures. Susan didn't care what happened – Avery had been the one at fault anyway – and the newfound usefulness she saw in her powers was giving her an intoxicating rush of self-confidence. She winked at Mr. Corkle and let her hand light up with just enough shimmering green that the teacher noticed it immediately.

While she was not a big girl, and hadn't started growing at the same intimidating rate as Henry, Mr. Corkle noticed the strange energy pouring in a haze from Susan's clenched fist, and his stern expression seemed to soften into something more tentative. Maybe even frightened. He looked at his young charges for another moment, silent, until he turned around and went back into the school without another word, leaving them alone on the playground.

"That was weird," said Avery.

Henry stepped forward and flexed his pectoral muscles threateningly. "I think you should go back inside before we have any more trouble," he told his schoolyard foe.

"Don't think this is over!"

Henry watched as Avery disappeared inside of the schoolhouse, and then turned to his sister.

"I have to say, I didn't think you had it in you, sis," he said as he gave Susan a slap on the shoulder. "Defending that girl against an evildoer like Avery – I'm impressed!"

"Why do you keep calling him an evildoer?"

"Dunno," said Henry. "It just seems appropriate."

Madison stared at his sister and brother. Although neither of them were displaying any of the bright, colorful energy that had been emanating as they attacked Avery, he had seen it in action a moment ago. He and his two young twin brothers, Walter and Wendell, were only beginning to get a handle on their own powers. His younger brothers had barely begun speaking, much less exercising whatever powers they now had, but Madison had seen faint traces of purple when he concentrated on the strange feelings he had developed ever since the meteor strike. Sometimes he thought maybe he gained or lost an inch or two in the course of his concentration.

"That was pretty cool," he admitted. "We're like freaks or something. But in a good way."

Henry nodded. "Like superheroes," he suggested.

"We're so much more awesome than the other kids!"

"Now now," said Henry as he chuckled and gave his younger brother a pat on the head. "Let's not think we're better than anyone just because of the gifts we were given at such a high price. The bigger the ego, the smaller the man."

Susan snorted at Henry's comment. She found herself leaning more towards Madison's interpretation of their powers, even if he was insufferable most of the time. Maybe being different wasn't always a bad thing, after all. Out of the horrible circumstances that meteor had brought with it, something truly amazing might take root and grow.

XX

Go City was not the windy city, but it was windy enough. On a day late in December, it was windier than usual, and cold air whipped between skyscrapers as it made its way downtown until it reached the lake bordering the city. Unruly waves crashed violently against a collection of jagged black rocks, which made up the small island on which Go Tower stood like a sentinel, looking out over the city it protected. The lake's restless waves were the only sound heard around the tower. But after a moment, another sound began to grow louder, rumbling over the waves, as a jet approached from the city. Following the path of the wind, the jet touched down on an extending ramp that unfurled from the top of the tower.

Inside of Go Tower, the silence was much more deafening. The control room was empty, and a massive viewing screen overlooked the round table where Team Go normally planned its missions. The control room was nondescript, sparsely decorated, and colored in a combination of blue and purple – the result of Hego and Mego fighting over which color was more intrinsic to Team Go. One of the few decorations in the room was a holiday wreath placed in the middle of the mission table, with a red candle in its center.

Beyond the silence of the room, the rumble of the jet landing above the tower could be faintly heard inside. Moments later, voices echoed through the room, growing louder as they drew closer.

Don't understand how you could...

The control room's silence was broken by the muffled sound of a distant door opening.

...not that big a deal, I was just...

The main door to the control room itself slid open with a pleasant whir, and the much less pleasant sound of arguing flooded the room as Team Go entered from their most recent mission. Unlike most of their missions, this one had clearly not ended well.

"I'm trying to understand, Shego," said Hego as he led the way into the room. "I keep hoping that maybe you just got the mission from the Mayor before we did and arrived on the scene early, or maybe you took it upon yourself to try to hog the glory once again."

"No way," said Mego. "I heard her talking to him! They were talking about criminal stuff!"

Hego looked pleadingly at his sister as the Wegos trailed behind them into the control room, the door automatically closing behind them. "Shego, is this true? What were you and Aviarius talking about?"

"It's all just a big misunderstanding," said Shego. "I was just trying to get some intel, that's all. I don't see what's the big-"

Just as they had entered the room and gathered around the table, Team Go's argument was interrupted by a futuristic whooshing sound as the viewing screen's black surface flickered into life, revealing the image of Aviarius. Team Go's arch nemesis took a look around Go Tower's control room from the viewing screen before noticing Team Go in the middle of the room.

"Ah, you're all here," said Aviarius. "Shego, sorry to interrupt, but I was hoping you'd be back by now – I wanted to give you a few more pointers on how best to embark on the path of villainy, continuing the discussion we were just having before your brothers so rudely interrupted us."

"Not now, Aviarius!"

Shego flipped open a control panel on the round table, mashing buttons angrily in an attempt to turn the screen off. How her brothers had not noticed the blatant security risk posed by the viewing screen, she had no idea. Their enemies were accessing it constantly. It took several moments of mashing while Aviarius watched bemusedly before Shego finally found the right combination to disconnect the viewing screen. She looked up to make sure it was black again before turning back to her brothers.

"Okay, so, I guess you caught me," she laughed.

Hego slammed his fist on the table, partly in anger, but partly in frustration at hearing something he was almost unable to wrap his head around. "My own sister, fraternizing with the enemy!" he shouted.

"What did you expect?" asked Mego. "She's been acting fishy for a long time now – she's always been the black sheep on this team, if you ask me."

"Green sheep," corrected Wendell, as Walter nodded in agreement.

Hego tried to calm himself as he grappled with what he and his brothers had just seen. Shego had been missing that morning, which was not unusual as she often visited Go City without letting her brothers know, and generally did whatever she wanted if she wasn't on a mission. They had gotten a call from the Mayor about Aviarius robbing a bank, which was also not unusual. It was even a bit uninspired for Aviarius. Hego and his brothers had arrived a bit late to the scene of the crime as they had spent some time trying to get in contact with their missing sister before giving up, hoping to rendezvous with her later. The last thing he had expected to find upon trailing Aviarius to Go Mountain, however, was his sister and arch enemy chatting it up like a pair of old friends.

"Shego, why were you talking to him about villainy? I refuse to believe that you've turned to the dark side. I know how you like to do your own thing, and you've always a little flippant about Team Go's protocol, but turning evil? How could you stab us in the back like this?"

Shego groaned. "And here it is! The holier-than-thou attitude, always telling everybody else what to do, always thinking you're an authority on everything. Mr. 'I do everything by the book.' But you know what's funny, Hego? You're a hypocrite!"

Hego sputtered indignantly for a moment. "Explain yourself!" he managed to spit out.

"You talk about good and evil all the time, but do you really think you're all that good? You're gonna tell me – you're gonna tell any of us – you're just doing the whole hero schtick out of the kindness of your heart? It was all about attention, from the very beginning. You're full of yourself, Hego. And I'm willing to bet all those classy parties over at the Mayor's mansion has a little bit to do with it, too. Do you know how many pictures I've seen of you with a girl on each arm, plastered on the front page of gossip magazines any time I'm walking around downtown? I bet you're telling them all about how good you are, huh?"

Although insinuations along the line of Shego's tirade had been thrown at Hego in the past, he had never heard it so directly. It stung, and it floored him briefly. Sometimes, in moments of rare self-awareness, Hego was aware that he could be fairly narcissistic. He knew that Shego's accusations were not far off from the truth. But while Hego was narcissistic, he was not stupid. Or at least he was smart enough to realize that Shego was sidestepping the issue.

"You can criticize me all you want, Shego, but my character has nothing to do with what we just saw in Go City. Aviarius is a bad person, and he's put innocent people in danger in the past. You've seen it! We've all seen it! Tarnishing my reputation doesn't change that. Moral relativism isn't going to fly in Go Tower, let me tell you!"

"She probably learned it in some college philosophy class," sneered Mego. "Maybe it was an elective for that precious child development degree she was getting while we were actually trying to do something practical."

Shego made a move as if she was about to leap across the control room table at her brother, fists flaming, but Hego stepped in front of Mego in an attempt to placate his sister.

"You want another reason I'm tired of Team Go?" she said. "There you go. It's all about Team Go, all the time! Anytime I try to do my own thing, anytime I try to live my own life, you all have something to say about it. I wanted to get a degree so I had something outside of our team, and it was like I was stabbing you guys in the back already. The constant whining, I swear! It's like we have to be all about the team, we have to follow these rules all the time. Most of which were made by you, Hego."

Shego turned to Mego, who was partially hiding behind his older brother after sensing that his comment about Shego's time in college had almost led to serious green plasma burns.

"And you," she said to Mego, "I know you agree with me about Hego. You have your problems with him too, and you don't like all the rules any more than I do, but you're a pushover! And you take every opportunity you can get to give me a hard time because – well, I don't know. I thought it was because I was a girl for a while, because you felt threatened at how I'm stronger than you-"

"Excuse me?" interrupted Mego.

"You heard me. Me being a girl is part of it, and it's part of why you're condescending to me, Hego. But," she said as she returned her attention to her purple-clad brother, "I think it's more than that. You're just a jerk. You're a jerk to all of us, but you're the most jealous of me. You have to limit it around Hego because when it comes right down to it, he's in charge of Team Go and you don't want to rock the boat."

Hego paced around the table as he listened to his sister's tirade. "You're still rationalizing," he said. "Even if you have such a problem with all of us, which you never communicated-"

"I did," said Shego, "but none of you listen."

"-nevertheless, that doesn't explain you plotting or whatever you were doing with Aviarius."

"I was just talking to him," said Shego. "He's a total dork anyway, and he doesn't have that much to teach about anything."

"Teach? What are you talking about?"

"Oh, come on," said Shego. "Why do you think I've been skipping missions lately? Why do you think I disappear more and more often? I'm tired of all of this! I don't want to be a superhero anymore!"

"But villainy?" pressed Hego. "Why would you choose the exact opposite? Why choose evil?"

"It's not just a black and white-"

Hego raised an eyebrow, and Shego faltered. She knew what he was getting at. She truly didn't believe it was black and white, but then, she was going to a very dark shade of gray, and there was no rationalizing that away. Shego gave up. It was time to tell the whole truth.

"Because it's fun," she said. "Because being the good guy is boring."

She leaned forward, placing her palms on the table and peering at her older brother as a malicious glint flashed in her eyes.

"Because I like it."

The Wegos stared at each other in shock. Hego stared at his sister in shock, while Mego stared at nothing in particular, looking fairly satisfied that he had known it all along. While he hadn't, he probably had a better idea than Hego did. Partly it was because Mego was more cynical. Partly it was because Hego had had more faith in his sister's conviction to the cause.

"I don't see how she can stay in Team Go," said Mego. "Not when she just admits it like that. What are we supposed to do?"

Shego waved her hand dismissively. "Don't worry about it, bro. I told you I was tired of Team Go, and I've been waiting for an opportunity like this for a while. I won't bother you guys anymore, so you can have fun playing your silly little games here. I'm out."

Shego was about to leave the control room when Mego cleared his throat.

"If you're out, you have to sign the papers."

It took Shego a moment to realize what he was talking about.

"The papers – what? You're not talking about what I think you're talking about, are you?"

Mego nodded silently.

The Wegos were too young to remember, but Hego's brow wrinkled sadly as he realized what papers Mego was thinking of. Shego rolled her eyes and stormed wordlessly out of the control room, heading towards the hallway connected to Team Go's individual living quarters. Her room was at the end of the hall, and she burst through the door, headed straight for the dresser beside her bed. She knew what papers Mego wanted. She was surprised she had remembered them as quickly as she did, after so many years had passed.

Clothes were in the bottom drawers, and in the top dresser drawer, Shego kept assorted knick knacks and supplies she had collected over the years. She did not own many personal possessions, and it only took moments of impatient rustling through assorted junk thrown into her top dresser before she reached a familiar set of papers at the bottom. She pulled them out of the drawer and placed them on top the dresser. She knew there would be a matching set of papers somewhere in Hego's room – probably framed on a wall somewhere – as well as Mego and the Wego's rooms. She read the title, written in black pen, printed neatly across the top of the first page:

Team Go Protocols and Procedures

Below the title was a mission statement. Below that, several pages of needlessly verbose rules and regulations, most of them related to Hego's own conceptions of how a superhero team needed to function. Shego flipped through the pages impatiently, passing one page where, long ago, she had signed her name in sparkling green ink to induct herself into Team Go. She ignored the page - even after all these years, she remembered what she was looking for. She only needed what was on the very back page. She reached it, and stopped for a moment as she stared down at the blank line drawn near the bottom.

I forfeit my place in Team Go for one of the reasons detailed in Subsection III, Part 4. Signature: _

There was nothing legal about the document. It was handwritten long ago by Hego, although she couldn't remember if she was holding the original or just a copy of it. The last page – particularly the ending section, dealing with a member of Team Go wanting to quit – was the only part that was tailored specifically for her.

She wondered if she really wanted it. She had lied to Hego earlier, after all. Not about being tired of Team Go, that was very true, but about waiting for an opportunity to quit. She really hadn't thought about it extensively either way – all she knew was that she increasingly believed the life of a superhero was not for her, and the seductive whisper of villainy had been getting louder and louder as they went on more missions. Her time off for college had increased her isolation from her siblings, and once she completed her degree and came back into the fold, she had found herself paying more attention to the enemies they fought as time went on. Noticing their attitudes, their schemes. Wondering what their lives were like. What it was like to have no rules, no obligations.

"Shego."

The sound of her name made Shego turn to her bedroom door. Hego was standing in the frame, almost bigger than the frame itself, wearing a concerned frown as he watched her.

"You don't have to do this. Not at this time of year! You're a valuable member of Team Go – I think you've just lost your bearings a little, seduced by the siren song of Aviarius and his evil ways. You're one of the good guys, Shego."

Shego listened quietly to her brother. She turned her gaze away, and looked down into the top drawer of her dresser again. A single pen had rolled into the empty space where she had pushed aside the junk in the drawer to find the old papers. A plastic goblin was attached to the back of the pen, coated with a layer of dust and fuzz, and the pen itself was decorated in her favorite colors since childhood: green and black. She picked up the pen and pushed the little goblin, clicking the button it was covering and extending the pen's writing tip. She wondered if it still had ink in it.

The pen traveled over the paper, and its tip rested on the signature line of the last page for just a moment. Then, Shego wrote her name in cursive across the line. The name sparkled in neon green ink, bringing back a faint memory of when she had first signed the papers as part of Hego's informal ceremony to join Team Go.

Susan Go, she read silently. The pen still worked after all these years. It was done.

XX


Notes - Hope you guys liked chapter 1. It will be three chapters total, and the holiday stuff is most prominent in the last chapter. I'll probably post again on Wednesday and Friday.

I noticed that Aviarius was listed as "unknown, possibly fifties" on the KP wiki, which surprised me, although he has other stats that are clearly just made up. I don't remember his age mentioned in the show, and I always thought he was similar in age to Shego or Hego for some reason; perhaps it's just that I am reminded of Zim when I hear his voice due to the voice actor. Anyway, I obviously treated him as being similar in age to Hego in this story, so do me a favor and grant me a little suspension of disbelief on that point if my view is weirder than I thought, hehe.

Oh, and in case anyone actually watches the show, I also wrote my first Glee fic today called "Santana's Little Helper", which apparently spent about 2 hours on the front page before being pushed off by the sheer volume of stories for that show, haha. But check it out if you're interested.