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A New Day to Conquer

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     Drakken walked through the front door of their apartment complex in their lair, weekend suitcase in hand, expecting to see Shego sitting on the couch in their living room, painting her nails while the TV shone in front of her.  After all, that was how she’d been positioned the last few times he returned from visiting his mother.  Yet, unlike the previous times, where she awaited him with open arms and a sarcastic remark, she was nowhere to be found.

     “Shego?”  His voice reached out into the abandoned room, and he paused.  No answer.  Holding back a sigh, entered into the apartment and locked the door behind him.  Usually when he wasn’t home (which, he admitted reluctantly to himself, was only… to visit his mother), she would retreat back into her old room.  The room, that is, that was hers before they started seeing each other romantically.  He checked his watch.  9:32a.m.   She’s probably still sleeping, knowing her, he thought.  Lifting up his suitcase so the rolling wheels wouldn’t bother her, Drakken walked down the hallway towards their bedroom. 

     Just as he opened the door to their bedroom, he heard a groan coming from the opposite side of the hallway.  “Shego?” he called out, not sure what exactly caused her to feel such pain or discomfort where she actually groaned.  Drakken looked at the two doors across from their own: the bathroom and Shego’s old room.  The bathroom light shone under the closed door, so he quietly took the few steps necessary to reach it, and knocked gently.  “Shego?” he asked yet again, this time knowing that she would—or should, he corrected—answer him. 

     “ ‘S open.”  His eyes furrowed in worry as he heard her hoarse throat through her words.  Drakken slowly opened the door, almost afraid of what he would find on the other side of it.  He half-heartedly mused that he was right to feel that way, as he took in Shego’s crumbled form in front of the toilet.  Both seats were up, and the air smelled of rotting cheese.  She was sitting in one of his old t-shirts and sweatpants from her college days barefoot.  Her hair was thrown behind her back, as though she tried to hold it herself and only let it fall now that she was through. 

     He walked over to her, taking the twister out of his own hair, and knelt down as he used it to tie back her hair, just as black as his.

     “Thanks,” she muttered.  Drakken nodded, not sure what to say.  After all the years that he’d known her, even after all the years they’d been together, this was the first time he had ever seen her ill with something other than a cold or, in the case of the 2012 winter, the flu.  Instead, he just opted for rubbing her back as she leaned against the toilet bowl seat.

     After a few minutes of silence, he finally mustered up the courage to ask, “Are you feeling any better?”

     She scoffed.  Well, at least she’s got enough energy to be lippy, he thought.  “I’ll take that as a ‘no’, then, I suppose.”

     “You got that right, Doc.”  He smiled at her nickname for him, that being the only reference to his former evil alter ego she still used these days.  Well, aside from when they were in the bedroom, of course.

     He felt her shift next to him, and he removed his hand from her back as he realized she was planning on rising up from her less-than-dignified position on the bathroom floor.  Shego rose to her feet and leaned against the bathroom wall for a moment to gather her bearings before she fell to the floor again, aiming for the toilet.

     Drakken got up himself from the floor and stood hunched over her, still not sure what to do, never having been in the situation before.  He brushed his hair back behind his ears as his mind started to wander dangerously through the past couple of weeks.  He found the answer he was looking for before he even knew he had asked the question, but before he decided to act on his recent revelation (which he refused to think about too hard lest his brain crash in the overload), he needed to know one more thing.

     “Shego,” he began when she seemed to finish that round, “what did you eat for supper last night?”

     “Salad.  And before you go saying that it wasn’t enough or that it was probably bad dressing or anything, I bought everything new yesterday and planned the healthiest dinner I could so that this wouldn’t happen again.  Because it’s been happening since the first day you were gone!”  Drakken’s heart broke at that, knowing that his love had been suffering this alone for three days while he was at this mother’s house sipping mimosas.  Yet, it even broke his heart further when she lashed out unaware of what he feared to tell her next.  “God, what kind of stomach flu did I get?!”

     Suddenly he knew how to go about this.  Kissing her sweat-covered temple, he informed her that he was going to the store and would be back shortly, ignoring the curses his girlfriend sent his way as he ran out of the lair to the hovercraft.

----------

     Drakken returned in a half hour carrying three bags from the nearby drugstore.  Hurrying as fast as he could back to the bathroom, both dreading that she would still be there after all this time and yet knowing in his heart that she would be, he dropped one bag off in the kitchen and brought the other two with him into the bathroom, although deciding at the last moment to leave the second one right outside the door.

     Shego looked as though she hadn’t moved, which was both good and bad, he figured.  “It stopped,” she said shortly.  “Well, as long as I don’t move, that is.”

     Without saying a word, Drakken opened up the grocery bag on the counter to reveal a loaf of bread.  He didn’t bother looking over at Shego, knowing that even in her sickened state she would have an expression on her face that said all-too-well that he was being idiotic.  Rather, he simply took a piece and held it out to her with the command: “Eat.”

     “Bread?”  Her rhetorical question stung him, even though he knew she could use this right now. 

     “It’s supposed to help.”

     “Seriously?  You left me hurling for a half hour to go get bread?”  He didn’t bother responding.  “We have bread!” she finally exclaimed, throwing her hands up from their precarious position, only to start swaying.

     “Shego, ju–just eat it.”

     Slowly, she reached out for it, as though she were reaching out to touch a stray dog leery of humans, and, just as slowly, she started nibbling on it.  Drakken, meanwhile, took the loaf off of the bathroom counter, and, sitting cross-legged on the floor next to her while she ate, placed it in his lap.

     Shego finished the piece and straightened up slightly, and Drakken recognized the change.  Already knowing what she was going to ask, he pulled out another piece and handed it to her.  She looked into his eyes, and although he could see the pain in them, he also read the wordless thanks she gave him.  He nodded almost imperceptibly, giving her an encouraging smile.  She gave a small one back and began to nibble on the second piece.

     Halfway through, she paused to ask: “How did you know this would help?  This bread, I mean, not the white bread we have in the kitchen, which I’m assuming you would have grabbed if you had thought it would be any good.”

     Drakken rubbed his eyes, his hair falling in his face as he took a deep breath and mentally prepared himself for what was going to come next, whatever her reaction was.

     Still rubbing them, he began, “I remember my mother used to tell me that she used to eat this—”

     “Wow, Drew, who knew your mother’s craziness would be helpful for once?” she interrupted.

     Drakken took another deep breath and, looking her in the eyes, he continued.  “She used to eat this to help with morning sickness.”

     A pregnant pause fell between them before Shego scoffed, returning to her bread.  “Doc, seriously?  I get some kind of bad stomach flu and all of a sudden you think I’m pregnant?  Really?”

     But Drakken, as much as he didn’t want to hear himself say it, knew he had to.  “Shego,” he started, placing his gloved hand on her arm.  “Shego, please take this seriously.”  He saw her take a breath, preparing to argue, but proceeded before she could get a word in.  “When do you usually get your period?”

     Drakken noticed her pale (which, given her naturally pale complexion, was saying something) and knew that she was putting the pieces of the puzzle together just as he did not but a half hour ago.  Almost afraid to break the silence, she finally whispered, “The fourth.”

     “And what’s today?”

     “The twenty-third.”

     “And did you get it while I was gone?”

     She paused again, afraid to answer, already knowing where this was going.  “No.”

     Drakken realized that she was distancing herself from reality, not by escaping the walls around her, but by retreating into some unknown corner of her mind only she knew, just as she did when Mego died.  He took his hand off of her arm and reached up to cup her face, but he realized he was still wearing his gloves.  Muttering to himself, he yanked them off and took her face into both of his hands.  Knee-walking over to her, he sat down on his knees as he stroked her cheek with his thumb.  “Shego, I need you to come back to me.”

     She shook her head, shaking away whatever internal demons she was wrestling with in her mind, and blinked, returning to reality.  Before he could register what was happening, the shower curtain was ablaze with green fire and his flower was turning on the shower faucet, angling it to put out the fire.

     “Great, Shego, now we have to go purchase a new shower curtain!”

     “Doc, this can’t be happening!  I didn’t want kids!”

     Drakken took note of her choice to use the past tense, but didn’t address it right then, deciding to first calm her down.  “Well, if you recall my view, I wasn’t too gung-ho about it either, Shego!”

     She got up suddenly and began pacing the limited space she was offered with Drakken kneeling so close to where she was seated by the wall.

     “Shego, you can figure out the next step later.  Right now, let’s just confirm it before we go freaking out about nothing!”

     She paused mid-step and put her arms around herself, sighing.  Drakken knew she hated when he was right and this was certainly one of those times.  She pressed her fingers against her head in frustration before relenting.  “Fine.  I guess we should go get a… a pregnancy test,” she muttered at the end, wrapping her arms around herself once again.

     Drakken got up himself, albeit a bit more slowly than her, though he would never admit it, and said, “Already done.”

     Shego furrowed her eyebrows in confusion, and Drakken grinned shyly as he retrieved the bag outside the door.  He dumped its contents out on the bathroom counter, revealing eight pregnancy test packages—two of every kind they had at the drugstore.  Her eyebrows changed their dance again, this time raising one in question.  Drakken simply closed his eyes and shrugged, choosing to play it nonchalant rather than admit that since he was panicking and didn’t know what he was doing or how accurate they were, he chose to buy two of every kind they had instead of just asking somebody or looking it up on his phone.

     Shego sighed as she grabbed the top one and read the instructions on the back.  She glanced out of the corner of her eye and saw Drakken on the other end of the room (which was only about a yard away from her, at most).  “You gonna stay in here?”

     His face turned purple was he began to sputter out unintelligible words.  They’d reached that level of intimacy where they weren’t embarrassed about being in the restroom at the same time as the other years ago, so why he was acting like this was new to him.  Finally, he got out, “I’m just going to have to come back in here in a minute anyway!”

     Her glare turned into a soft smile, and he knew that she was teasing him.  Even after all these years, she still knew how to grind his gears, both in good and irritable ways.

     “Relax, Andrew,” she said gently, and he knew that she must have been scared.  He could remember only one time she addressed him by his full first name, and that had been the day after the Lorwardian invasion when she admitted to him in the quiet of the night that she was afraid she had lost him.  He never wanted to hear her that serious again, yet it seemed he couldn’t avoid it.

     They didn’t speak as she peed on the first pregnancy test, or the second, or the rest, for she did end up testing them all, desperately hoping that they were all wrong.  Yet, lined up on the counter was the same message, revealing the truth in various symbols.

     Shego was definitely pregnant.

     She stared at the tests with vacant eyes, and not looking at Drakken, although he was worriedly looking at her the entire time, said in a disembodied voice, “I’m going to take a shower.”  She pulled the twister from her hair and handed it back to Drakken, who accepted it wordlessly and let it roll down to his wrist.  She grabbed a towel from the small linen closet behind him and began stripping.

     As Drakken started to pick up the tests, he heard her say, “Just throw them away.”  Not even caring that she didn’t have a curtain, she turned on the water and faced the wall as it started to heat up, her back turned to him.  Setting the first one aside, he picked up the garbage can and swept the rest off of the counter into it, and recognizing her need to be alone for a bit, quietly grabbed the first test and wrapped the hair twister around it.  He knew that if she saw this in the near future she would either break down crying or burn it and him, neither of which he wanted, but he just couldn’t bring himself to get rid of the only evidence he might ever have that he could have been a father.  That he and Shego could have been parents

     Quietly, as though in a dream, he placed the used pregnancy test with the hair twister around it in his pocket and shut the door.  Almost immediately after hearing the click, he pretended not to hear Shego softly sobbing in the bathroom.

-------

     Drakken decided not to pressure her, not to seek her out, not to do anything that might upset her.  But that didn’t mean he wasn’t on edge all day, waiting for the moment when she told him of her decision.  His heart was beating erratically and breaking simultaneously, dreading the words he feared would be spoken yet hoping against hope that she wouldn’t say them, that he wouldn’t have to hear them.

     A few hours of this emotional torture found him tired of being alone, feeling that even if she needed to be alone, he needed to be with her.  He found himself at the door of their bedroom gently knocking.  “Shego?” he said more than asked, suddenly feeling a wave of déjà vu from this morning.  How everything had been so simple not but four hours ago!  “Can I come in?” he asked.

     She called back in the positive, and he opened the door to find her curled up on his side of the bed.  “You know, I would have come sooner if I had known you didn’t want to be alone,” he told her, sitting down next to her.  Having changed into his loungewear immediately after leaving Shego to her shower, he felt more at east in his body, if not in his soul.  If he still had one, that is.

     “I’m glad you didn’t.  I needed to think things through—sort things out in my head.”  She looked up and when their eyes met, he knew she understood his silent question.  She moved a bit over, and he swung his legs up on the bed, settling in for a moment before she leaned against him with her head on his chest.  He wrapped his left arm around her while his right hand took her left in his lap, his thumb stroking the back of her hand.  He rested his head upon hers and took in the scent of her shampoo.  They sat like that for a while, just content to be with each other in silence, even though it felt like the world was hanging over their heads.

     Finally, he whispered, “Were you able to?”

     “Able to what?”

     “Think things through.  Sort things out,” Drakken responded, using her words against her, though they were on the same sides of the battle.

     Shego sighed and snuggled closer to him.  “What do you think I should do?” she mumbled into his chest.

     He paused, knowing damn well what he would like her to do.  But it wasn’t up to him, now, was it?  “It doesn’t matter what I think.  It’s your decision.”  The tension was thick in the room, somewhere between awkward and tense, although never uncomfortable.  No, Drakken knew that whatever her decision he would still love her, and they would get through it.

     She adjusted her head so she was facing the same wall as he was, despite never actually losing contact with him.  They both stared at nothing, but it felt like they were looking at their lives.  In a way, we are, Drakken thought as he awaited Shego’s response.

     “So you don’t care either way?”

     “I didn’t say that.”

     “I thought you didn’t want kids.”  Shego looked up at him, Drakken noticed, but he didn’t look down at her.  He wasn’t ready to do so.

     “I want what you want.”  He decided that was the most political answer.  And it was true to boot, wasn’t it?  He would always want what she wanted, even if what she wanted wasn’t in line with what he wanted.  And with each day he saw her try as he was to be selfless (well, at least when it came to each other—everyone else be damned).

     Shego whispered something too softly for him to hear.  “Can you repeat that?” he asked.

     She looked up at him again and smiled tensely, and he knew that she was dreading his reaction to this just as he was dreading hers.  Yet in the depths of his heart hope blossomed once more.

     “What if I want to keep her?”

     Drakken’s already felt this hope against hope blossoming into a magnificent rose in his chest, but he was still hesitant—still terrified—that he misunderstood Shego.  Shego—his lover, his best friend, his partner-in-crime, partner-in-good, partner-in-life, and (dared he dream?) the mother of his child.  Shego—so many sides making up the woman he loved—was awaiting an answer, but he was afraid to ask the question.

     “Do you mean…”  He couldn’t bring himself to finish it, remembering their conversation from what felt like a lifetime ago.  Yet the air felt a little lighter, and Shego must have noticed it as well, because she reverted back to her usual, snarky self for a moment.

     “Well, I think it would be cruel to stick some unsuspecting family with a kid who could potentially spew green fire out of her hands or have vines growing from her back, now wouldn’t it?  I mean, I’m all up for still being mean and all, but even I’m not that cruel.”

     Drakken smiled and buried his face in her hair, happiness spreading throughout his body.  “But wait,” he said drawing away from her to look her in the eye, “I thought you didn’t want kids.”

     “I didn’t.  But quite frankly I never thought I’d be in a position where I’d be with someone and want to have them, let alone be able to have them.  I never even planned for an accident like this.”

     Drakken’s mind wandered for what seemed like the millionth time that day.  “But we spoke about this—“

     “Yeah, Doc, we talked about this once, like, five years ago, back when we were still trying to figure us out and our future was up in the air and we didn’t even know where we were going to be living in the next month let alone whether we were going to still be together at that point.” 

     He didn’t say anything, mulling it over in his head.  They had been at a rocky point in their lives at the time, he remembered.  But since she hadn’t brought it up after that, and he hadn’t dared to bring it up, he had thought the case was permanently closed.  Until that moment…

     “So I take it your reason then wasn’t that you hated them?”

     “Drew, I have my degree in Childhood Development, and I have my teaching certificate.  Do you honestly think I hate kids?”

     “Well, maybe not then, but after you turned evil, I suppose…”  He trailed off, not sure where that sentence was going.

     “Yeah,” Shego mumbled, “I know.”  She paused, and he watched her train of thought return to its tracks as she kept going.  “But that’s just it, isn’t it?  We’re not evil anymore.  And you were never really evil.  You just liked the romance of it.”  At this Drakken laughed, knowing her to be right in this and so many other things.  “See?  Even you know it.”

     “So what is it that you’re worried about?”

     She took a deep breath, but they trusted each other.  That’s what they did, and he knew that she was getting ready to be vulnerable with him.  “I just never planned it, never thought about it before.  It was never an option so I didn’t fantasize about it.”

     “You didn’t plan on us, though, did you?”

     She laughed.  “No, and it turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me.”

     Shego and Drakken looked into each other’s eyes.  Smiling with her, Drakken said, “Well, what if this is better?”

     Shego snorted.  “Doubt that.  How could anything get better than having the Savior of the World as my boyfriend?”

     “Well, Shego, you do have a point there.”  She smacked his stomach with her left hand.  Feigning injury, he responded.  “You wound me, Shego.”

     “Yeah, well, I also get you laid, so remember that next time you wanna go around saying that I hurt you.”

     Drakken laughed and started stroking his fingers through her hair tenderly.  “You really want to do this then?  Be parents together?”

     Shego sighed once more.  “I’m not sure of anything.  But what really made me decide was that I kept thinking, This is going to ruin everything.  And I would panic for a minute before some other part of me replied, But he’s my…”  She trailed off, not ready to finish her sentence.  She looked up at him again.  “Drew, you know I love you.  And you know I’m trying to be a better person to keep this going for our sakes.  But you… you’re… you’re my…”

     “You’re my everything, too, Shego.  That’s why I wanted this to be your decision.”

     She laughed.  “And why I wanted it to be yours.” 

     The two lovers laughed together as only lovers can, knowing everything about the other and sharing in yet one more thing to tie them closer for the rest of their lives.

     “Quite frankly I hate the thought of my body turning into an egg and getting stretch marks and getting torn up and—”  She shuddered.  “And I don’t even want to think about what else is going to happen to it.  And I don’t like the thought of not being able to fight anymore, but really, the only person I ‘fight’ with right now is Kimmie—and that’s sparring.  The rest is child’s play.  I could always go back to my teaching certificate, and I know how to raise kids—I mean, I’ve been professionally taught how—”

     “Shego, Shego!”  Drakken stopped her from rambling on.  “I get it, you have the training.”  He paused, mulling her rant over in his head.  “You’re… actually freaking out about this, aren’t you?”

     “You think?” she deadpanned.

     “Why, yes, as a matter of fact, I do think.”

     “Good to know your brain cells aren’t just sittin’ in your head with nothin’ to do.”

     “Shego!”

     She laughed, powerfully, but not cruelly, and then quickly became serious again.  “I keep thinking about how everything is going to change, but the thought of letting somebody else raise her is heartbreaking.  And… I… I can’t kill her, Drew.  I can’t.  I can’t kill our daughter.  So… that only leaves one choice.”

     Drakken blinked, surprised after taking in this new revelation.  “I didn’t know you saw it that way.”

     “That’s because I didn’t.  Not until today.  Don’t get me wrong, if this had been ten years ago and I was pregnant with some rando’s kid,” he winced at that, not liking to remember her extensive list of lovers, even if it did make their time together more enjoyable, but she continued, unaware or not caring about his reaction.  “I wouldn’t have thought twice about it.  Even if I had been in a more stable point in my life.”  She pressed against his chest, trying to get closer to him, although in the position they were in that was physically impossible.  “But, Drew, our daughter?  How could I?  How could I snuff her out of existence, not knowing whether she’ll have your mind, or my attitude, or—” At this she laughed again.  “—or your flowers, or my fire?  How could I?”

     “You couldn’t,” he responded matter-of-factly.

     “So yes, this scares the shit out of me, and I’m probably going to be screaming at you for the next nine months, and then the next eighteen years, but…”   Their eyes met.  “…but you want this too, don’t you?”

     Drakken smiled, his heart filled with more love for this woman than even he could have thought possible.  “More than anything.”

     Shego let out a sob, lifting her left hand to stifle her tears, which Drakken knew she would blame on hormones if asked, while he rubbed his hand up and down her back.  “It’s that simple, then?  Really?”

     “I’d hardly call deciding to raise a child simple, Shego.”  She laughed at this, not bothering to prevent the tears from flowing out anymore.  Drew’s shirt was getting soaked with them but neither could find it in them to care in that moment.  “But yes, in a way it is that simple.”

     She snuggled closer to him, and they lay like that through the night.

-------

     The next morning they woke up stiff from their unorthodox positions, and morning sickness deprived them of a moment to remember what they had decided.  Drakken followed Shego into the bathroom and held back her hair with one hand while he reached for the bread (which neither had put away in the kitchen yesterday) with the other.

     When she was done, he handed her a piece, and joked that they ought to keep the loaf in the bedroom, to maybe stop it before it started in the morning.  Shego muttered something that sounded like an insult, but it was early, and Drakken was still too pleased about yesterday’s decision to want to bicker back.

-------

     As they sat down to breakfast, Shego asked, “Doc, why do we have four gallons of ice cream in a plastic bag in the freezer?”

     Drakken shrugged reaching for his coffee.  “I bought it when I went out yesterday for the bread and the pregnancy tests.  I thought you might want some,” he said nonchalantly as he sipped his drink.

     At this her gaze softened.  “You really were hoping I’d want to keep her, weren’t you?”

     He set his mug down and nodded sheepishly, trying unsuccessfully to keep eye contact in the moment.

     The air became heavy again as Shego whispered into her own drink, “What if we had been too late?”

     “What do you mean, Shego?”

     “I mean, not that I was planning this, but what if one day in the future, when we got old and gray, we were talking and it came out that you wanted kids and we couldn’t do anything about it anymore?”

     “If in that scenario, we’re still together, that’s all I would have wanted.”

     “Yeah, but, Drew, I’m obviously not opposed to this with you, and if you wanted to have a kid earlier or something…  We could have been parents already.”

     Drakken reached over and grabbed Shego’s hand across the table.  “We are.  And let’s not look this gift horse in the mouth, alright, Shego?”  She smiled warmly.  “Or should I say gift daughter?”  At this her brows furrowed.  “Why do you keep saying we’re going to have a little girl?”

     Shego took her hand away from Drakken’s and returned to her meal.  “Because if we don’t, Drew Lipsky, I will tear my head off.”

     Drakken laughed wholeheartedly, already imagining Shego trying to handle, let alone be responsible for, a smaller version of himself.  When he looked up from his cereal he saw the mirth in her eyes, and he knew that they would conquer this as they tried to conquer everything else: together.