Sequel to Take Me As I Am. Enjoy.


I.

Shego strolled down the misty path that led out of the park. Behind her, the path wound to where Stoppable should have run into the princess. Tricking him had been easy enough. When it came to manipulation, Shego was no slouch. Not that Ron wasn't smart or clever, merely insistent that he avoid Kim and not think about the trap-trap.

Blowing out a mist of her warm breath against the cold front, Shego tightened her arms and green jacket closer to her body, trying to heat herself. Behind her, Ron walked toward a confrontation he needed to face. There was no avoiding it. Ron's choice at the fork in the road could decide the world's fate.

Shego didn't have time to wonder about the relationship between her friend and her former teen nemesis. Shego had other matters to ponder over. One in particular came to mind. Could she continue her career in the Army? A multitude of reasons presented themselves behind the question.

The U.S. Army itself was now in question. It no longer fell under the United States government, but the new Terran Union, along with all the other national military forces of Earth. She'd joined for excitement. To fight people who formerly employed her, but how would she do that now? If her career was in question, where did that leave her?

More pressing than the affairs of the world, Doctor D. What did the future hold for their relationship. Saving the world changed a lot, but like Ron, Shego was in her own rut.

Putting on a face for Ron, convincing him he needed to figure things out. Watching their dance at the ball, the fire that flared from each of their steps, anyone in the room saw they belonged together. Their relationship went beyond chemistry and physics.

For Drakken and her, matters were different. Love? It existed. It flared up and down. They were older than say Ron and Princess, but that didn't mean their ties had any less flare. It was the fact that she couldn't see him. Not yet.

Because of her agreement with Global Justice, it barred Shego from seeing the Doc for a five-year minimum. After that, they would have to sanction the restriction to be lifted. That didn't stop her from wanting to see him. And that didn't mean that Doctor D didn't have any tricks up his sleeve for the both of them to bypass G.J.

Next week would be the first time they would see each other in almost three years. Three years.

Shego noted to herself. She really missed their days of mischief and villainy, even if there was no going back.

Her watch buzzed, itself just a U.S. Military knock-off of Possible's own wrist kimmunicator. Instead, though, the military added new code to their communications for a more secured connection.

Looking down, the name calling for confused her. Master Sergeant Bryer, the last person she would expect a call from. She answered the call, knowing better than to ignore it. "Yes, Sergeant," Shego still needed time to get used to answering formally instead of sarcastically.

"Sergeant Go. My apologies for disturbing you on leave." Bryer's face remained stoic, almost dark as if something foreboding hung over him.

Thinking of how she spent the first three days of her leave pressing Ron into patching things over with Princess, Bryer interrupting wasn't much of a hinder to her plans. She still had two days until her flight to the west coast.

"No, Sarge. You're fine. Just on a stroll. What's going on, Sarge?"

"If you're not too busy, I'd like you to meet myself and Sergeant Ryker up in Liberty. We're at the Melanchthon Lutheran Church. About thirty miles northwest."

The heat in her face rose. Church. She couldn't remember the last time she'd been to church. Was it when I was a kid or a teen? Shego shook her thoughts.

"Sure. I'll be over there. Give me a couple hours."

"Take your time." His image flickered away.

"I wonder what the Sergeant wants with me at a church?" Shego pocketed her hands into her coat. "I hope he's not trying to convert me before I meet with Doctor D. He'd have a field day," she chuckled to herself, changing her direction to her car.

II.

Snowfall in Liberty turned into a trickle, contrasting against the chillier atmosphere. The vintage church rebuked Shego's presence, repulsed by her presence. She expected an army of angels to descend from heaven and throw her out.

Church's never sat well in Shego's gut, always demanding something she couldn't give. Sins haunted her, pushing away from a path too narrow to ever follow. Any church she came across amplified that guilt. Its white steeple and cross served as a judge to her past.

If God so willed it that even her inner repentance wouldn't save her, then she vowed every time to become more of what God hated.

A shout woke her from her trance. At the foot of the steps, two familiar associates stood with slouched shoulders. Staff Sergeant Ramos and Sergeant First Class Ryker trotted out from under the awning, rifles cradled in their arms.

Shego placed her hands on her hips. "That's funny, wasn't expecting you two. Where's the Sarge?"

They glanced at each other, not a smile in sight before Ryker spoke. "Sergeant is inside. He's waiting for you."

"Ya know, when you invite someone to a party, you're supposed to greet them."

Neither Ramos nor Ryder smiled, stoic as Bryer.

"No? Wasn't funny, huh. No, 'Hi, how's it going?' What buzzkills."

Shego frowned, unsure of all the mopey disposition, as if the snowfall and overcast skies weren't enough. "Fine. I guess I'll just walk inside. Hi, to you too."

Trudging up the steps, Ramos and Ryder stepped aside to give Shego access to the door. Without another word, she pressed inside.

The cramped space didn't resemble any glory or greatness that resembled an all-knowing God. She expected an overwhelming pressure, one that would burn her skin and melt her. The steeple outside resembled nothing more than a facade. Shego stepped into the aisle, almost giddy to be underwhelmed.

The pews were small, only six on either side, with three flanking the sides of the altar. Small and quaint, diminishing God to nothing in Shego's eyes.

In the front row, a slouched Bryer stared, eyes fixed on a painting of Jesus himself above an altar table. Shego paced herself along the pews until she reached his row, able to confirm his fixation on Christianity's savior.

She slid beside him, giving him enough berth that they weren't touching.

"So, Sarge… have a reason for calling me here, of all places?"

Sergeant Bryer didn't answer and maintained his silence and stare upon the frame of Christ. The old Shego would have waved her hand, bothered him in any way possible to get his attention. That was the old Shego. Now she showed restraint, choosing to stare until the sergeant was ready to open up.

He let out a long breath. "Do you believe in God?"

Shego chortled until she noted the somberness stretched upon his face. "Oh. You're actually serious?"

"You know…"

Shego released a breath of relieved air that he didn't mind her brashness.

"Any time I come to church, not a day goes by where I wonder if it's all real."

"So… you don't believe in all the nonsense either?" Shego asked.

"I don't know."

"Then why are you here? Why ask to meet me all the way in the boondocks? At a church?"

"I come to church… to think about what I could have done differently. To see if what I've done is enough to make up for all my failures and sins."

Shego turned to the painting of Jesus. "Have you found what you're looking for?"

"No," Bryer replied.

Shego turned her head away, shoulders drooping. Her arms tensed, and she snapped back to Bryer. "Why did you call me all the way out here?"

Bryer hesitantly swung his arm, a tablet in his hand plopping into hers. "In my whole career, I've never had to do this. I have gone to strangers' doors or received letters from command about someone's family. But never… never like this."

Shego stared at Bryer, confounded. He nudged her hand with the tablet back at her. Shego looked down at the screen, which portrayed paused security footage outside a building with a busy street in the background.

"What exactly am I looking at?"

"Press play."

Bryer kept his eyes trained on the painting behind the altar.

Shego focused her sight back on the tablet, tapping the screen.

The video resumed, somewhere about a minute and a half in. People in suits and others in casual clothing walked in and out. Shego didn't recognize anyone until a familiar face stepped into the frame from the sidewalk along the street.

"Sarge?" Shego's breathing grew shallow, her heart's tempo increasing. The video continued. "Sergeant. Tell me what I'm watching."

Bryer didn't answer.

Shego's eyes refocused on the screen. Anxiety hijacked her breathing as Dr. Drakken paced himself. A dark van approached from the street behind him, swerving around another car before it thumped over the curb, straight for Drakken.

Shego's thoughts raced. Get out! Move out of the way! Doctor D! The van barreled toward an unaware Drakken, whose pace never quickened. When he noticed, Drakken didn't run. He stopped and looked back. Seconds turned into hours as her gears ground to a halt.

The tablet thudded into the carpeting.

Shego remained completely still, eyes bulging out as if the screen still rested in her hands. Her lip trembled. Silence deafened the surrounding church.

Before Shego could mutter a word, Bryer beat her to the punch.

"They found no remains. He was present at the Vladivostok Embassy when it was atta—"

"When did you know?" Shego's voice squeaked.

"I—"

"When did you know?" She forced.

"I found out before Collins' funeral. Two days before."

"And why didn't you tell me?" Her voice whimpered at the end.

"Orders."

"Bullshit." Her voice trembled.

"Even if it was bullshit. I wouldn't have hit you with a fubared piece of news."

Shego's hands glowed. "You should have told me."

Bryer stayed quiet, his eyes focused on Shego's. Shego's fists opened, green fire spilling from her clawed hands.

"Why? Why couldn't you—"

Bryer stood up, surprising Shego, whose eyes widened as she took a step back. Color bloomed in his cold, steely eyes as he put his hand on her shoulders.

"I know you're upset and… I know this ruins all your plans, but believe me, if I could take all the pain you're feeling right now, I would. Nothing's fair in war… and I guess love. Life doesn't give two shits."

Her face grew cold and numb, all feeling disappeared. Shego turned and slunk back into the pew, letting bitter truth sink in.

The doors to the church slammed open, Ryker and Ramos shutting them just as fast.

"They're here Sergeant. And you-know-who dragged themselves along?" Ryker said.

"How many?" Bryer asked.

"At least twenty. I'm sure they have back-up on the way. Looks like they're not taking any chances."

"Who's here?" Shego stared aimlessly.

"Global Justice."

"What do they want?"

"They want to change the deal to your commutation. They want you in prison."

"Figures."

Shego sank further, her color drained away, the world around her losing relevance. Hego once told her that when one door shut, another opened. But for Shego, all the doors slammed shut. She'd brought her sin into the house of God, and therefore her punishment left only one door open.

A path where Shego lived alone. With no home to go to, and Global Justice about to snatch away her new life. She had nowhere else to go and no longer had a home. She was homeless.


TBC...