Dinner and a Movie
It had been a beautiful day, at least in terms of weather, and the evening was shaping up to be even more pleasant. Maybe it was the way the cool breeze picked up the smell of the grilled steaks as Shego flipped them over with an iron skillet. They had placed the Portable Party Grill on the balcony to cook their dinner, and, although Shego would never admit it out loud, she was almost glad Hego had stopped by. Almost. But not for sentimental reasons, she told her self quickly. It was just because her brother had brought this grill with him, that was all.
"Nice view," said Hego.
Shego took a swig from an open wine bottle resting on the balcony railing. She had been hitting the wine even before they started cooking, and they'd be having more of it along with dinner, although Hego didn't look like he was touching much of it. The streaks were almost done. She went inside to get a serving plate. Her brother followed her, although she didn't need his help; in the small apartment kitchen, someone with his bulk would probably just get in the way.
"If you can afford an apartment as nice as this," he asked, "why do you need to steal? Or are you even paying for this apartment?"
"Of course I am. It's a little hard to steal apartments, you know. It's not like a lair you build out in the middle of nowhere – people tend to notice. Anyway, working for Doctor D and doing the jobs I do while I'm off the clock with him gives me more money than I know what to do with. I steal things because I like to, not because I need to. And because I don't care about what it does to some fat cat's bottom line."
"Ah, but the fat cats will pay themselves whatever they want either way. Shoplifting ends up hurting people at the bottom most of all. Like minimum wage part time store clerks!"
Hego winked knowingly. Shego knew he was referring to a brief time in high school when she had worked at an upscale clothing boutique in Go City. She had always been railing against the tyrannical manager. Suddenly, the good will she had been feeling about the grill was dissipating like smoke on the wind. Hego and his stupid little maxims. Always making wise observations about the world – at least they were wise if you asked him. Ever since she was a little girl, that was how she remembered him.
She grabbed a few plates from the kitchen, setting two of them down on the coffee table. She brought the third out to the balcony so she could grab the steaks, along with some mixed vegetables she had also been cooking - although the grill was small enough that some had fallen off, which she had kicked from the balcony and into the street many floors below. Almost forgetting the wine bottle, she tried to grab it before heading back inside, but accidentally knocked it over the railing instead. She cursed as it disappeared into the night, joining the lost vegetables. Good thing she had stolen at least half a dozen of those things.
"Maybe you should take it easy on that wine, little sister."
Shego shot him a nasty glare. "Maybe you should take it easy on the attitude, Hego."
The two of them sat down after putting their steak and vegetables on their places and pouring a couple glasses of wine. Shego turned on the television as they ate, although for some reason it was set on a local channel with the Mayor talking about some calamity. She flipped channels quickly, thanks to her history with Team Go, she had already gotten more than enough of the Mayor's irritating lispy voice, and she didn't want to deal with Hego leaping up and making a big commotion about the city being in danger. She settled on an old episode of The Fearless Ferret, and they ate their dinner. She didn't mind complimenting herself; the steaks were excellent. She had done a good job. Her brother seemed to agree, based on his disgustingly loud chewing.
"What about this other stuff?" Hego asked between bites, motioning with his fork to the furniture around them. He had always had bad table manners. She remembered buffalo wing takeout nights with a shudder of horror.
"What about it?"
"Did you steal it all?"
Shego gave the room a once-over, trying to remember where she had gotten various things, and then nodded. "A lot of it. That lamp over there is stolen. Pretty much all the knick-knacks, anything you can carry in your hands. I don't bother with the furniture, it's too much effort to haul out of a store, so I just buy that. But the plasma screen and the stereo are from that electronics place down on Haight Street. All the movies and CD's are stolen, too."
Mentioning movies made her eye linger on the DVD rack standing on the floor beside the wall unit that held her plasma screen television. This episode of the Fearless Ferret was boring – she had seen it before – and for some reason, she was in the mood for a movie. As a matter of fact, she had stolen the latest nail-biting installment in the Bricks of Fury franchise just the other day. It was sitting unopened on the top of the rack. She got up after gulping down the last of her glass of wine and grabbed it, tearing the shrink wrap viciously away from the case. Trying to tear off that annoying sticky tape they always put across the top to seal the case shut began to make her angry, though. What was it, anyway? Some kind of anti-theft thing? So much for that working.
"What are you opening?"
"Bricks of Fury VII. They must release like three of these movies a year."
Hego stood up and looked over her shoulder with interest. Shego shrugged her shoulders instinctively, trying to push him away. After earning a hard-fought victory against the sealing tape, she opened the case and put the DVD into the player. The two of them settled down on the couch, their dinners finished, as some opening trailers began to play. Shego poured herself another glass, fast forwarding through the them in irritation. She hated when they put those at the beginning of a movie she paid good – well, she just hated when they put those at the beginning of a movie. No wonder all those nerds stole movies from the internet all the time.
"So what's up with Team Go?" she asked lazily as the opening credits rolled.
"It's nothing, really. Our little brothers can be a lot to handle sometimes, that's all."
"Mego, sure. I could see that."
"And the Wegos are starting to grow up," said Hego. "The other day they – well, I don't know how to say this, Shego. But they had a girl over."
For just a moment, Shego wanted to snort with laughter at her brother's comment. For many people, 'having a girl over' would have been a euphemism for monkey business, but in her brother's case, she knew he meant it literally. He sounded just like an overprotective father. And yet her next reaction was to agree with him. Maybe it was just the wine, but the thought of the Wendell and William turning into pubescent wannabe Casanovas made her twitch with some strange mixture of concern and anger. She and Madison had never gotten along, even though their temperaments weren't all that different when they were in a bad mood. But the Wegos? She had always tolerated them the most. She didn't want them venturing into the wild world of women. For once, her eldest brother was right to complain about something.
"Sometimes it's hard to deal with them," continued Hego. "They depend on me for everything, and I always have to be the one making the decisions. You may think it's easy being the one with all the responsibility, Shego, but it's not. There's just so much responsibility!"
"Yeah, that comes with having all the responsibility," she said sarcastically.
Hego didn't always pick up on her snark, but he did this time. "I'm being serious. As the natural leader of Team Go, I usually enjoy exercising my decision-making powers and leading the team to victory after victory, but sometimes it's not all it's cut out to be."
Shego considered pointing out that she had led the team to victory more often than her brother, back when she had been part of the team, but decided against it. She didn't want to get into a silly argument. Instead, she took another gulp of wine as her brother ranted on over the movie's beginning. The hero was busy throwing himself furiously through a brick wall – bricks being a big set piece in all of these films. It was easy, the way he did it. Like he didn't feel the bricks at all. She supposed it was the fury that helped with that. Shego knew if she tried to get a word in edgewise with her brother, she wouldn't have nearly the same kind of luck getting through to him.
"And the Mayor," he went on. "He has so many demands. Galas, press events, endless board meetings about whether or not our latest crime-fighting operation changed his polls at all. I take my responsibility to Go City very seriously, but sometimes I feel like his personal puppet. You should have seen how much trouble he gave us after Electronique hit us with that Reverse Polarizer. You'd think it was our fault we trashed half the city!"
Once again, Shego refrained from speaking. There was no point in pointing out that he was, in fact, basically the mayor's puppet – another reason she had been so eager to leave Team Go behind. Maybe her brother had a point about being blamed for their brainwashed rampage, though. They were no more responsible for their actions than Shego had been responsible for making googly eyes at Kimmie's high school teacher. People could do some crazy things when they weren't in their right minds. Here she was, for instance, getting drunker by the minute and watching a movie in her favorite martial arts series with her estranged brother. Although she wondered if he really felt as estranged from her as she did from him, considering he had stopped by to spend the night.
"So what are you saying" she asked. "You're planning on quitting Team Go and taking up a life of shoplifting?"
"Of course not," said Hego indignantly.
"Hey, you're the one that ran off with that grill you didn't return. I didn't ask you to do that."
After a long pause, Hego barely kept a wry smile from turning into a grin. "I have to admit, it was a rush running away from those two security guards. Doing the wrong thing can be tempting, I suppose."
"Wow. Wasn't expecting to hear that. So you really are-"
"Just a one time thing," her brother said quickly. "Never again. My duty is to fight evil, Shego."
She wasn't sure if she'd characterize five finger discounts as evil, exactly, but she knew she wasn't going to have any more luck pushing her brother. She was just needling him, anyway. She knew there was no chance he'd actually join the dark side and flip over to a criminal lifestyle. People like Hego just didn't change that much. Even if, apparently, he did have the occasional day where the pressures of being a good guy piled up on him.
"Sometimes people take me for granted," said Hego. "Sometimes I don't feel appreciated."
As far as Shego was concerned, this was a case of the pot calling the kettles black. Lack of appreciation just about summed up her entire experience in keeping Team Go together when she was still on the team. Still, that meant she could understand exactly how he was feeling. "You gotta take the bad with the good. And no matter how difficult things get with Team Go sometimes, you know you'll always go back to them."
Hego thought about it for a minute.
"Why is that?"
"Because you love the job, of course. You love being in charge and telling everybody else what to do. There's no such thing as a perfect job, but for somebody with your personality, leading a team of lazy younger brothers with superpowers to throw bad guys in jail and get called a hero is pretty much as good as it gets."
Hego settled down lower in the couch's cushions, sensing the sting in Shego's backhanded compliment.
"Besides," she added, feeling another one of those weird twinges of guilt she had been feeling tonight, "They're family. And they actually need you, you know."
"Yeah. Team Go couldn't run itself without you, and the Mayor wouldn't have a chance of running the city without your help. Maybe they don't always express how grateful they are, but they are."
"You really think so?"
"I know so."
With just those few words, Hego's sullen slump into the couch turned around as he sat up with a perky smile on his face. Technically, Shego wasn't making things up completely. Without him, Team Go would be even worse off than it already was, and the Mayor would probably get voted out of office since they were a constant boost to his public image - when they weren't Reverse Polarized, anyway. She doubted the city would plummet into criminal chaos, though, which was probably what her brother imagined, but he was an important part of the city's – and the team's – overall balance.
Of course, that was only because she wasn't there to keep things running even more smoothly.
"We've talked about me," said Hego, "now let's talk about you."
"Oh, no you don't."
"Come on, Shego. Sometimes it helps to lay it all out on the line. I saw the news stories – you and Drakken saved the world, whether you want to admit it or not, and now Drakken's making a big show about turning a new leaf and trying out the life of a law-abiding citizen."
"It's just a phase," she said. "He's just confused because he got so much attention for saving – for beating those aliens."
"But what if it's not a phase?"
Her brother's question was nothing new. She had been asking the same thing herself. Trying to envision Doctor D as a friendly scientist, bent only on new innovations for the benefit of mankind, was just too much to wrap her head around. First they were helping Possible and the dork fight aliens, but what was next? Joining Global Justice and going to work everyday on a schedule? Punching the clock and sitting at a desk all day? Shego would take over the world herself before she let that happen. Maybe she was just a creature of habit. She didn't know what Doctor D was planning in their future, but she didn't like all these sudden changes.
And there was another reason why she had taken some time off to be alone in Go City. Their future. It hadn't even occurred to her until now that she was thinking about the two of them that way. It was unsettling.
"If Drakken decides to go good," her brother asked, "what about you?"
She had no answer for that.
"I think maybe you returned to Go City because you're having second thoughts about your criminal lifestyle, little sister. I think maybe you wanted to see me and talk things over. Maybe you even want to rejoin Team Go!"
"Don't kid yourself."
"Why not at least consider it? I'm older than I used to be – I won't be as bossy and condescending as I used to be."
Shego raised an eyebrow.
"Not quite as much," her brother added in a rare moment of sheepish self-awareness.
"Even if I did want to try the goody-goody superhero thing again," said Shego, "there's only room for one of us on Team Go. You know that. And you're the one who's willing to take responsibility for things, not me."
Although her brother did not answer, she could tell he understood. Today was an unusual day; the two of them had crossed paths, and here they were, sitting in her living room and watching the same movie together, almost enjoying each other's company. But they were different. Very different. There was no way she was going to go back to the way things were, even if she had to admit that Hego was on to something when he brought up Doctor D's change of heart when it came to supervillainy. She suspected it was more than just a brief phase. She didn't know how to deal with it, and she didn't know what it meant for her. Or for them.
"What about that move Drakken put on you with his flower tendril? Everyone saw it on television."
It was Shego's turn to sink lower into the couch.
"I don't want to talk about that."
"You can open up with me. I'm your big brother, I-"
"Look, Hego? Professional stuff, fine. But other stuff is off limits."
Hego smiled in a condescending, big-brother kind of way, which only made her angrier. She felt embarrassed at the whole thing. Everyone had seen it on television. National television! And while she had been trying to ignore it, Drakken's feelings toward her had been an elephant in the lair. He had made a few advances since then, but a combination of uncertainty on his part and panicked withdrawal on hers had put an end to that. It didn't help that his mother had stopped by soon after the United Nations incident and gone on for what felt like two solid hours about when the wedding was going to take place and whether Shego had considered such-and-such bridal shop.
She wasn't used to those kind of complications. Boy toys and beach hunks were one thing, but taking a step into the unknown with a considerably older employer? Okay, so maybe despite all his eccentricities and manias, she just so happened to like him a lot – another thing she wouldn't admit to anyone besides herself – but nothing was that simple, was it?
"Just follow your heart, Shego. That will lead you in the right direction."
Another one of her brother's corny pieces of feel-good advice. This one, however, didn't annoy Shego as much as they usually did. Partly because she was distracted by how he had sort of read her mind, which was creepy. Maybe it was just the wine getting to her. She reached over for the bottle to refill her glass, but it was nowhere in sight. She frowned, about to get up and find another one, but decided it wasn't worth getting up before she was even halfway off the couch. The movie droned on as she plopped lazily back down. The two of them sat and watched it idly.
Shego was actually feeling tired. It wasn't that late, and she hadn't drunk that much, but maybe it was a side effect of her unexpected reunion with Hego. Trying to talk reasonably with her brother had always led to exhaustion in the past, although he had been surprisingly tolerable tonight. On the screen, the movie's hero threw a brick at a mustachioed villain. Shego yawned. She wondered if her brother was enjoying Bricks of Fury. After all – with his super strength and constant showboating, she could remember him bashing in a couple of brick walls just to say he did.
The sun was just beginning to peek over the horizon, creating a burning orange outline around the black bulk of Go Tower. Its silhouette rose up from its island foundation, watching silently over Go City as the rickety boat finally reached the shore. Hego and his brothers sometimes used the ferry boat when they wanted to head into the city; buying the island to build their tower had been an aesthetic decision, but unfortunately it turned out to be kind of difficult to visit Go City itself when you only had a jet for transportation.
Hego nodded to the old man who had been rowing and gave him a small tip. He jumped off the side. Unfortunately, he had misjudged where the shoreline started, and his feet splashed in the freezing cold water that lapped against the rocks. Grumbling to himself, he shook some of the wetness off as he made his way to the tower entrance and pressed his hand against the entry sensor. The door opened with a soft whoosh of air. He tiptoed inside, not wanting to wake up any of his sleeping brothers as he made his way in the direction of his bedroom to get some much needed rest after a long day of work.
Sometime after his sister had gone to sleep in her apartment, Hego had risen early in the morning, deciding it was best to go home before she awoke - partly because he wanted to take a few of her stolen things and return them to various stores in an attempt to make things right, which she definitely wouldn't like. She'd be in for a surprise when she woke up, but Hego had a responsibility to do the right thing, even if she didn't approve. Sam and Lenny, those security guards at Go Go Groceries, had chased after him again when he came back to the store to return the grill. They didn't even give him a chance to explain himself! Sometimes the noble path was a lonely one, that was for sure.
Sneaking out of Shego's apartment with some of her personal possessions wasn't the only reason he had avoided waking her up, though. As a strong, dependable team leader and the voice of reason, he wasn't supposed to cry or get emotional. And that was hard to avoid when it came to goodbyes. His evening with his sister had been interesting, and while he was thankful to her for helping him get his head cleared, he also knew there was no chance she would rejoin Team Go. They had been on different paths for a long time. Even if the news said Drakken was having second thoughts about supervillainy, and even if he might end up dragging Shego along, his sister would never be the superhero type again.
And that made him sad.
Hego walked into the living room, which was on the way to the sleeping quarters. He was surprised to see all three of his brothers sitting on the couch and watching television. They turned around as they heard him enter, and Mego got up with an angry look on his face. "Hego!" he said. "Where have you been?"
"I ran into Shego earlier this evening. I was over at her apartment for a while."
"Really?" asked Wendell, getting up from the couch.
William joined his twin excitedly. "Is she joining Team Go again?"
"No. We just talked for a while, that's all."
The Wegos looked disappointed, but Mego was still angry for some reason. Hego soon found out why. "What about the groceries?" his brother demanded. "You said you were going to get some food!"
"You know, I must have completely forgotten."
"What? What are we going to eat for dinner?"
"It's almost morning."
Mego looked out a window, surprised to see the dawn's light shining. "Argh! We've been sitting here waiting for you to come back and cook us something since last night! What are we going to do now?"
Hego did feel guilty about forgetting the groceries. Admittedly, it was hard to remember something like that when you had overzealous security guards chasing you out of the store both times you tried to come in. He supposed Go Go Groceries was a no go from now on. Some people just couldn't forgive and forget. He'd have to find another upscale place whenever he wanted something fancy.
In the meantime, his brothers wanted food, and as leader of Team Go, it was his job to get some. He remembered what Shego had told him; he was the one who was willing to take responsibility. Maybe his brothers could be pains in the butts sometimes, but they needed him. He enjoyed leading Team Go to victory, whether it was against their foes or their stomachs. But still, running around all night had tired him out. He didn't feel like getting groceries or going out to eat. He considered the problem, and another idea came to mind:
"How about some Chinese takeout?"
Judging by his brothers' expressions, that was definitely the right choice.
A flash of pain shot through Shego's head right after she yelled out the words. She stood up from the couch, where she had been curled up in slumber, and groaned as her knees wobbled; definitely too much wine last night.
If he wasn't already long gone, her brother's body would be flying around her room like a rag doll right about now, never mind the super strength. Shego had woken up to a disaster. Her favorite lamp, her green and black silk wall hanging, and just about everything else smaller than a handful and not nailed down was gone. She didn't even know how Hego had managed it; did he take multiple trips? Did he just use his super strength to precariously balance half her apartment furnishings and squeeze it all through the door without waking her up?
She read the note again, which Hego had left lying on her stomach while she slept on the couch:
I had to take a few things that needed to be returned. I'm sorry, but it was the right thing to do. Thank you for the wonderful evening and the dinner. You should talk to Ron Stoppable – I hear he's taking culinary courses, and you have a talent for cooking. Maybe that's one idea you could pursue to clear up your career confusion.
As for your relationship confusion, all I can say is good luck!
The note was written in no-nonsense block lettering, with blue ink, which he had apparently fished out of a drawer somewhere. Relationship confusion, the note said. She snorted derisively. Whatever that meant. She had to give Hego props, though; stealing half the stuff in her apartment was an impressive feat, there was no denying it. But even more impressive would be the immense pain she'd be inflicting on him when she caught up with him.
But no sooner had she thought of revenge than she sank back down on the couch. She stared at the blank spot on the wall unit where her beloved flat-screen television had been. It was her own fault, really. Inviting Hego into her house after almost getting him arrested for aiding and abetting a shoplifter, and then pointing out all the things she had stolen? It was just begging for an obnoxious reaction on her brother's part. This was exactly the kind of high-handed stuff Hego did, and it was exactly why she left her brothers behind a long time ago. Maybe she didn't have much privacy with Doctor D, but at least the guy could understand how wrong it was to re-steal somebody's stolen property. It was a matter of principle!
Shego vegetated on the couch for a few more moments, still trying to wake up and collect her senses. She wasn't really a morning person, even if supervillainy called for long days of work sometimes. She wondered what she would eat for breakfast, trying to get her mind off her ransacked apartment. The drapes around the sliding door were not drawn, and outside on the balcony, she saw that the Pop Pop Porter's Portable Party Grill was no longer there. Maybe her brother had finally returned it successfully. It was too bad; some steak and eggs would have been good. Thinking about last night's meal brought their conversation to mind.
Hego was more perceptive than he let on sometimes. She didn't even know he watched the news – he had never done it when she was living in Go Tower with him – but he had known about how Doctor D was starting to change his supervillain ways. He had guessed that she was having trouble accepting that kind of change, and he had also guessed about her romantic frustrations. And it was true. The reason she was in Go City, taking a break from her employment, could be summed up in one word: Drakken.
Before Shego had left to think about things, she had gotten the impression he really was striking out on a new path. Maybe he just wanted attention and recognition, regardless of where it came from – and when you got beaten by a teenager as much as Doctor D had, it was probably tempting to try something different. What would it mean, if he turned into a legitimate scientist instead of a mad one? Would he had any reason to keep her employed? If he didn't need a partner in crime anymore, where did that leave her? Maybe just someone who happened to live in his lairs most of the time. Or his laboratories, she supposed, since regular scientists didn't really have lairs.
But a living situation like that raised some questions. Was it possible they could just be roommates? She knew how Doctor D felt about her, after all. He had made that obvious, in his own awkward way. It was out in the open, but she just hadn't been willing to deal with it. If she came back – well, she wasn't sure what it would mean. But she was pretty sure their living situation wouldn't just be that of a scientist and his pretty young assistant. It would be something else entirely.
Lost in thought, Shego propped her legs up on the coffee table and leaned back into the couch, but her foot knocked something off onto the floor. She leaned over and picked it up. It was a DVD. She had noticed her empty movie rack beside the wall unit after she had woken up; all of her movies were stolen titles, which meant Hego had taken them with him when he sneaked out of the apartment. Maybe he had overlooked this one, since it was left out after they had watched it last night. Bricks of Fury VII.
She smiled . Maybe he hadn't overlooked it.
Her stomach rumbled as she put the movie back on the coffee table. Despite their late dinner and her hangover, she was still hungry for some reason. This definitely wasn't a morning to go out for breakfast, though. Maybe that Chinese takeout place she sometimes ordered from would deliver in the mornings. She could have some lo mein and watch the movie at the same time – she hadn't caught much of it last night, since Hego had been yammering on the whole time. But no, she realized, frowning in irritation at the blank wall where the television should have been. Maybe her brother had left the one movie to be nice, but he had forgotten about leaving her a way to watch the darn thing.
Suddenly, something enticing came into her mind: the twenty by twenty descending high-definition viewing screen in the ceiling of Doctor D's central control room. There was dimmer switch in that room, too – it helped foster a sinister atmosphere, he had once told her. And there was a popcorn machine in the lair's lounge. Now this was an idea. Visiting Go City was nice for the nostalgia, and maybe the evening spent with her brother hadn't been all that bad, but her home town's charms didn't last forever. She could pick up some takeout on the way back, and if Doctor D wasn't too busy with his silly new legitimate scientific schemes, whatever they were, they could watch the movie together.
Shego stood up and stretched her arms, flinching a little at the light filtering through the open drapes. It wasn't that bad, though. Already, her hangover already beginning to clear. It was time to go home. She didn't know exactly what that meant for her, for the two of them - but she was ready to find out.
Notes: That's it for this story. I know Shego and Hego aren't really a popular combination, but I really like them. I would say this is one of my favorites out my smaller 1-3 chapter stories - maybe just because I really like the idea of Hego getting caught up in his sister's lawbreaking and the two of them hanging out in her apartment watching Bricks of Fury.
I actually had this story in mind for a long time, since I came up with it about the same time that I first came up with Pater Unfamiliar (which was back when I wrote Just a Jock). I had imagined Shego would be shoplifting off in Go City near the end of Pater Unfamiliar, when she had temporarily left Drakken after being disgusted with him backstabbing Dementor, but of course now this is more of a standalone story. It just took me a while to get around to it.