It wasn't really waking up, and yet it was. I didn't like it when my mind cleared and the clamp I'd carefully created to shut myself out was pierced by the things that were important to me. Names mostly, dates, and an old scrapbook I kept hidden so that I wouldn't let it break my self-inflicted spell. He just had to look in the bookshelf for something to read. Poor sot didn't realize what he was doing, and I was sorry for that. I guess having a split personality isn't the greatest, and what's worse is when one of those personas actually knows about the other. That's me. I'm the smarter half of myself, and yet I don't come out very often anymore. Not since my sister and her husband were killed. I left living life to him. Oh, I didn't mention did I? My other self, the one I hide behind most of the time is a name you'd recognize instantly. Inspector Gadget and I are two sides of one coin.
I looked at the pictures sitting on my lap and sighed. They were all wonderful memories from my life. My sister, her wedding, her husband who was my best friend and I becoming police officers in Metro City, and the birth of my one and only niece Penny. I slapped the book closed angry with myself for not hiding it better. I decided to hurry up and hide it again before he could wake up again. Miserable klutz wasn't able to get anything done without something backfiring on us. That's how I'd screwed up the greater part of my life. I decided to put the book in a place I figured he would never go looking in. In the back of the closet there was a secret door that only I knew how to open. I carefully moved our junk out of the way and opened the hatch where I had hidden a few other items of great importance to me and me alone. In here, I had hidden away things that I didn't want to see. Sarah's photography, her husband Mark's old awards, and some of my things I have no intention of mentioning.
I closed it back up and replaced the junk that stood in front of it.
I then checked in on Penny asleep in her room with Brain curled up on the foot of the bed. He looked up at me, and strangest of all was that he knew I wasn't Gadget. He growled at me in warning and I closed the door. For a science experiment dog he was the best pet I'd ever owned. I regretted letting him be the one to look after Penny, but I just didn't have any passion for life anymore. After I'd been blown to high heaven by M.A.D. I was fine since I'd still had Sarah and Mark, but when Dr. Claw had killed them, I gave up on everything. Penny was important, but I needed to protect her from myself more than anyone else.
As Sarah's brother, I was in no right mind to fight M.A.D. If I went after Dr. Claw, it would be for the wrong reasons. I wanted revenge for my sister's death and I also knew that I didn't want it. Therefore, I let Gadget fight in my stead, and he was doing an ok job. I did worry about us sometimes, and there had been a few incidents where I had been forced to save our butt. But he was relatively clueless to what Claw had done to Penny's parents. Heck I don't think Penny even knew who had done it.
Chief Quimby was the only man in all of Metro City who knew about my split personalities, and that was because he was a close friend of mine. In fact, he was my only friend. He'd agreed that I couldn't fight Claw, but my other self was perfect as long as he never learned about any of it all. It was a wonder that Sarah had ever told him about Penny. Sarah. She had known since we were kids.
She was a year younger than I was and noticed fairly quickly that I was two people. Back then, I'd been the one with the name, and she'd always called him 'your other self.' When I'd nearly been killed and they'd used Dr. Von Shlickstein to save my life it had been in my best interests that I let my real name die and take on the title of Inspector Gadget. I'd agreed only because M.A.D. would have traced Sarah back to me. In fact, they somehow still managed to do so.
I didn't want to remember everything because the memories sharpened my awareness and kept me awake longer. I could almost feel Gadget's presence there in the back of my mind sleeping. I began to resent his happy-go-lucky attitude. I was the one with the seriousness and the one who carried all the grief. He was the hero and I was the shadow he once used to be.
Poor useless sot. I thought to myself. I sat down on the couch and thought about Sarah and I as children. In the way memories go it was your average flashback.
She had been four years old when she told me about him. I couldn't believe what she was saying and I didn't for a while. However, at age eight I knew she was right. There were inexplicable things happening to me. We realized that when I was deeply stressed or upset I would retract and let him take over. For the most part, I was myself and he was just the shadow that I tried to ignore.
The older I got the worse it got and the two of us somehow destroyed anything we built up. Friendships were lost for both of us as well as any hopes of dating. Then in college studying criminal justice, we met Mark. He was the first person who befriended us both. He seemed to realize there were two persons in one body and it did not scare him away. Then he fell in love with Sarah and we became one happy family.
I heard a noise upstairs that snapped me from my reminiscing and leaned back to look at the stairs. I blinked at Penny, who even half-awake had the most intelligent green eyes I'd ever seen. They were just like her mother's. "Uncle what are you doing awake?" I knew she knew I wasn't Gadget. Perceptive kid. "Just couldn't sleep that's all Penny." I answered.
She sat down on the couch next to me. "Anything wrong?" She asked. Gadget would have told her everything was perfectly fine, but I just couldn't do that. "Just thinking about some things." I replied. No sense in trying to fool my sister's daughter. She was too much like her mother for me to trick her like that. "Is there something you'd like to talk about?" She asked me. She and I didn't talk much, and I knew she wanted to get the questions Gadget couldn't answer answered. "I was thinking about your parents. I miss them." I was honest with my niece, except about Dr. Claw.
"Would you tell me about them?" She asked. I sighed, but I knew I owed it to her; she was after all the one who followed Gadget and helped him. She was in all reality saving us both. Therefore, I told her one story, one that I knew she would appreciate. I told her about how her parents met. As I finished my story I felt how tired my body was. I honestly didn't want to fall asleep, because if I fell asleep he'd take over again. That was my doing and I really didn't want to switch things back again at the time.
Penny fell asleep her head on my chest. I could hear her heartbeat and the gentle whir of technology that came from my own chest. I placed my hand on her head and sighed. She needed me to be her hero, and yet she was really mine. I began to fall asleep then.
Inspector Gadget ran after Brain who was purposely leading him to the actual M.A.D. agents in the area. Gadget turned the corner and looked at a couple men in black suits. "Have you gentlemen seen a suspicious looking character running around here?" He asked good-naturedly. The M.A.D. agents turned and glared at him. "Inspector Gadget!" One yelled. "Now now, I haven't got time for fans." Gadget replied. The men charged him. "Dr. Claw wants him alive this time!" Gadget turned and began to run, "I really ought to keep a lower profile." He commented to himself.
The agents chasing him were on either side now and were going to grab him. "Go-go-gadget skates!" Gadget yelled. The wheels came out of his shoes and he clumsily tried to skate away. He sped away on one foot down the road. The agents continued to chase after him. "Wowsers!" He exclaimed as he careened out of control through traffic.
In the back of an alley Gadget was cornered. He turned back to the agents the wheels in his shoes retracting. "Now let's not get too hasty men." He waved his hands in front of him. "Now Dr. Claw will have his way with you." Gadget blinked at the agent. "Did you say Dr. Claw?" He asked. The two agents grinned. Gadget gave them a steep look. "You two ought to know there's no way you can stop me!" He said confidently. The two laughed and jumped Gadget.
Penny came running down the alley to find her uncle Gadget dusting himself off. The two M.A.D. agents were tied up by Gadget's lasso-tie. Penny stared at him in wonder. "Uncle Gadget!" He turned and grinned at her then frowned. "Penny what are you doing here?" He asked. "Oh Quimby brought you again." He said eyeing Quimby coming up to the two. "Hey Chief." He greeted. "Hello Gadget looks like you've done an excellent job." "Of course I always do." A couple officers came up and Gadget released the henchmen from his lasso, which then haplessly wrapped around Chief Quimby. Gadget smiled sheepishly, "Sorry about that Chief." "Gadget, just get me out of here." Was all Quimby could manage. "Right away! Go-go-gadget Lasso release!" The lasso unwound itself and returned to being Gadget's tie.
I never liked to interfere with Gadget's work, but he would have gotten us killed. And that was definitely not ok with me. All I ever needed to do was prompt him on what to do, and that's not hard when you're just a voice inside his head. The advantage was that he always listened to me, and he never questioned my presence whenever I made it known. The fool thought it was his own idea I'm sure. That's how I wanted it too.
I must confess that years ago Sarah had once told me that he and I weren't really two separate people. We were just two distinct halves that had split. I always told her this was wrong, and that we were indeed two very different people. In all reality I wondered if she was right. How else could two minds share one body? But that's not very important. Gadget had gone to bed early completely exhausted and I'd taken hold of our body for the moment.
My limbs felt heavier than usual; Jeez, he is such a spaz. He'd probably run himself ragged chasing after Brain more than any of Claw's actual henchmen. No helping that though. I struggled to sit up and looked at the watch on my wrist. It had been a gift from Sarah when I graduated Police Academy, and she'd given Mark one as well. She'd blown her entire honeymoon savings on two very fancy and expensive watches as celebratory gifts. They were pretty grand, with digital displays and built in flashlights. They even had a time zone setting, no need to change the time manually when in a foreign country. I now had both of them. Actually, I was planning to give Penny Mark's. Her birthday was coming up in a couple days and she'd need a good gift. What better gift was there than a possession from her late Father?
I smiled and then groaned. I'd have to dig that out of the closet vault myself. I decided I ought to do it now and get it wrapped that way if I didn't get the chance to give it to her myself she'd at least get it on her birthday.
I spent half the night trying to write a little note to her. Finally, I just wrote the simple facts. 'This belonged to your father. Thought you should have it. Love your Uncle.' I normally wasn't so thoughtful about these things, but I was beginning to notice that I was missing too much of her life. In the past six years since her parent's murder, I myself had only been present for about a third of that time. Still I wasn't willing to take charge of the situation. I checked the time as my mind began to recede. "Sorry Gadget, I guess we didn't get much sleep again tonight." I whispered as I drifted to sleep.
"Uncle Gadget!" Penny was eyeing the wrapped box in her hands. "What did you get me?" She asked gently shaking the surprise. Gadget looked at her, "I don't remember." He answered blankly. Penny shrugged and Brain sniffed it cautiously. "Well open it; I've got to get to the office soon." Gadget was getting impatient. "Oh right Uncle." She tore the pink paper unveiling a jewelry box. She looked up at her uncle quizzically as she slowly opened the box. She gasped holding up the elegant yet masculine watch. She saw the note and read it.
She knew just which Uncle had written it, and now she wanted to thank him. "Uncle what's the name on this?" She asked flipping the watch over to reveal her father's name engraved on the back of the battery casing. Gadget read it silently, his eyes clouded, and then they cleared up again.
I looked down into Penny's expectant green eyes. "That was a mean trick to pull." I commented. She smiled, "I don't know how my parents dealt with you. But thank you for this." She said holding up her father's watch. "Well I'd like to know myself. You're very welcome." I smiled at her. She was already placing it on her wrist. "When did he get this?" She asked. "Gadget has to work today. I can't keep him from his work." I answered back, "Come ask me tonight." She nodded, "Alright Uncle Richard." I froze and was snapped back just as I was beginning to fade away. My eyes met hers silently. "Where'd you find that name?" I asked. "I found a picture of you with your name written on the back." I was silently fuming. This girl was too smart for her own good. "Why don't you go by that anymore?" She asked.
I sighed, "Because now I'm Gadget. And because I don't exist anymore." She shook her head not satisfied with my reply. "Because my identity became Inspector Gadget to protect your parents and myself from M.A.D. Richard Jones was erased from all records." "Is that why you've let Gadget take over?" I nodded, "I'm dead as far as the world knows." I answered. She nodded solemnly, "Can't you two live in harmony?" She suggested. I shook my head. "But you act like the two of you are different you are really very much a like. You're two pieces of one puzzle." "You sound like your mother." It was all I could say. "I'll talk to you later Penny." I closed my eyes and forced my mind to release its grip.
That night she coaxed me back out to tell her the story I had promised to tell her. I found myself in the kitchen at the table a cup of coffee before me. I took a sip and sighed gratefully; I hadn't really eaten or drank anything in a while. "So what are you bothering me with this time?" I was a little harsh I know, but she was beginning to pester me.
"You promised me the story behind this watch. It matches the one you're wearing." I looked down at my right wrist and pulled back the grey trench coat sleeve to look at my matching watch. "Alright." I consented not unwillingly. I was beginning to enjoy this. I felt bad for Gadget; poor guy was missing out on all the fun.
Then after some weeks of Penny waking me up every night I decided I wanted to stay awake as long as I could. "Let's see how I do Gadget's job." I said to her walking her to school one morning. "Really?" She asked excited. "Yes." I found that I didn't have a clue how to work my own car…and I ended up taking the gadget-copter, which was quite a ride.
Quimby stared at me dumbfounded when I greeted him because he realized whom he was talking to. "Hey Q." He probably hadn't heard that in a few years. "Richard?" He asked. "Yes and no." I replied. "My name's been changed to Gadget, but I'm not the klutzy poor fool you usually work with." He smiled, but before we got any further something happened for the first time.
'What are you doing awake?' I asked mentally suddenly aware of a second entity in my head. 'I'm surprised you actually came to work.' The reply surprised me. Chief Quimby was watching in concern. 'Wait what are you saying?' I was terribly confused. 'You honestly thought Sarah wouldn't have told me about you as well? I've been wondering when you would actually stop hiding. Wowsers you're slow.' My face must have gone pale. "Are you feeling ok?" Quimby asked.
I sat there on the floor in amazed silence. 'So…' Nothing was getting through my shock. There was light laughter in my head, 'You and I should stop being separate entities and be one again.' 'I'm not the same as you!' I argued. 'I'm your other half. Sister Sarah was right.'
I must have passed out then.
Inspector Gadget sat with Penny frowning. "He's hiding." Was all he could tell his niece. "Was it that shocking for him?" She asked. "Apparently…" He was cut off by the phone in his hand. He quickly answered it. "Right Chief I'm on my way." He stood, "Dr. Claw is at it again. You stay here Penny." He hurried out the door and into the Gadgetmobile.
Penny followed with Brain to help him.
I was furious. Sarah had never told me that he knew. I had been duped into believing that my secret was only mine. I heard the phone conversation and decided I would outshine him for once on purpose.
There was a strange feeling when he and I both tried to have control over our body. I felt like I was only half there and in the process of fighting with each other M.A.D. agents captured us.
Penny was going to be mad at me, and she had reason to be. I had tried to prove that he was not the same as me and screwed everything up again.
Dr. Claw greeted us over a loud speaker, "Hello Inspector. We've been expecting you." "You know you can't get away with this Dr. Claw! You'll see!" Gadget answered back suddenly. It was freaky to have someone else speaking while I was thinking. "Take him to the lab. We're going to find out what makes the Inspector tick."
They dragged us away. Gadget tried to reason with me, 'Richard we've got to work together.''No, I can't. There's no way that I am as dumb as you!' 'That's why we separated! You didn't want me, and now we are going to die together. If Claw learns how Von Shlickstein saved us then he'll be able to make an army of nearly invincible soldiers.' He was frantically worried.
I was going to say something to him, but instead Sarah's words came back to me. "You two aren't really that different." Something dawned on me. Mentally I opened my eyes to see what seemed to be a mirror image of myself. 'So you finally figured it out?' Gadget asked smiling. I shook my head. 'I'm not sure, but if we really were one how'd we become two?' He frowned, 'It was all your doing, you got the idea that you weren't good enough the way you were and you severed half of your personality from yourself. I was tossed aside and have been trying to get you to understand this for a long time now.'
I nodded he; no, I was right. I reached a hand out towards him and he mimicked the movement until our fingers met. A shock wave shuddered through my mind. My patchwork memories were suddenly filled in with what I was missing. There was a strange sensation as two separate personalities collided. Smart, sarcastic, and harsh met clumsy, comical, and compassionate like fire and water that suddenly began to merge. I felt Gadget's personality unite with mine. I can't explain how it felt. "Wowsers." I whispered aloud.
My mind awoke from the fusion of my two selves and I looked at the lab I was in. They were strapping me down to a table in the most menacing looking room I could imagine. I struggled against them. "Go-go-gadget Snowgun!" I yelled. My finger changed into the barrel of a gun and spat snow out into the face of one of the agents. I stretched my hands and tried to unlock the clamps around me. I saw an agent coming for me and reacted without thinking "Go-go-gadget mallet!" Out of my hat came a hand holding a wooden mallet that knocked me in the head instead of him.
I blinked in pain, "That smarts." The agent had stopped and was laughing. "Go-go-gadget Lasso!" He was suddenly tied up just as I picked one of the locks. I sat up and grinned at the agents glaring at me. I quickly undid the rest of the locks and jumped down from the table. It wasn't a very exciting fight.
Penny and Quimby arrived with extra help. We made it out ok, but Claw got away again. "I'm sorry Q, Penny." "Nonsense Gadget we've just gotten a hold of one of Claw's lairs. And it happens to have a great majority of Claw's weapons and plans still in tact." He was happy about that. I nodded and Penny cocked her head at me. "Uncle?" She questioned. "What? You don't honestly think I'd let myself be killed by Claw. I'm Inspector Gadget for crying out loud!" She smiled.
That night I told Penny everything. It was long, drawn out, and hard to get out, but it was well worth it. Penny became quiet when I told her the final chapter in her parent's story. "Claw killed them to spite you?" She asked choking. "Yes, I'm afraid he did trace them to me. I promise I'll bring him in." She nodded, "It makes sense why you didn't tell me." "I never meant to hurt you." "You didn't." She replied. She then hugged me. "I'm glad to see my Uncle is back to normal." "As am I. Wowsers it's been a hard day and I'm beat." I started for the stairs. "Uncle Richard," She started cautiously.
"You know that's not my name Penny." I replied playfully. "Uncle Gadget don't ever change who you are." She requested. I smiled to myself. "I won't, I tried not being me once, and I think I nearly lost everything." She smiled back. "Goodnight Uncle Gadget." "Goodnight Penny."
Even as I headed for bed I realized I had finally woken up.