"Can we play hero, mama?"
She looked up from her paperwork and smiled at her 4-year-old son. This was his new favorite game. Ever since he found out Mommy used to be a globe-trotting teen hero, that was all he wanted to play. She slid the files into their folder and closed up her laptop. She could use a break from it, anyway. She'd moved from field work to analysis when she got pregnant with John, and she was very much looking forward to returning to it once he was in school. She'd take an elaborate deathtrap over mountains of case files any day, though working for a global organization still came with plenty of paperwork, even in the field. Sometimes she missed the days when a mission would start with a hit on her website and end with a heartfelt thanks.
She grinned. And, of course, her sidekick losing his pants.
"I wanna be your sidekick," her son said.
"Oh yeah?" she said, smiling down at him.
"Yeah," he beamed. "Like Daddy used to be."
She laughed. "Sure thing, sweetie. So, who are we fighting? Mad scientist? Monkey ninja? Crazed Scottish golfer?"
Before John could answer, there was a knock on the door.
"Hang on, sweetie. I'll be right back. You practice your moves, and, uh... try to keep your pants on." She grinned over her shoulder as she walked toward the door.
She saw the green outfit first, and her hackles went up. Green always put her on the defensive. Just to be safe, she grabbed the retractable baton she kept near the front door, before flinging the door open.
The woman at her front door held her hands up and a little girl ran and hid behind her. "No, wait!" the woman yelled. "No, please! I'm not here to fight!"
Later, the two women sat at the kitchen table, mugs of coffee in hand. The children sat on the floor, drawing. John had tried to get the little girl to play hero, but she was very shy, and wouldn't leave her mother.
The woman in green nodded, taking a sip of her coffee. "Yeah, she's his." She shook her head, put the mug down and rested her forehead in her palm. "Not that she knows him. He threw me out of the lair once he found out I was pregnant."
"Um, I didn't know you two were..."
"We weren't. Not really. It just kind of happened one night." She sighed. "It was late, you'd just led a GJ team to trash his latest take over the world scheme, we were at the emergency lair, and he... we... well, things just..."
"Yeah. So, a few weeks pass, I start throwing up in the morning, I take a test and the rest is... well, kind of pathetic, actually."
"That must have been shortly before I left the field. Our kids look to be about the same age."
"Near as I can tell, it must have been. I didn't really keep up with what he was doing after that." The woman in green took another sip of her coffee. "I put a lot of money aside over the years, so when I got pregnant with her I just went into hiding. We've been living on a private island of mine for the past few years."
Across the table, the former teen hero stirred her coffee slowly. "So, you really don't know what happened to him after you left?"
"No. Why? Did he die or something?"
"No. But he is in a secure holding facility."
"Really? What made you finally lock him up somewhere he couldn't break out of?"
"He killed a bunch of people, during his last attempt at world domination."
The woman in green put her mug down hard, and some coffee sloshed over her hand onto the table. "No," she whispered, covering her mouth. "How..."
"As near as we could tell, it was an accident. He had some sort of doomsday device, and it was pointed at the north pole, or the moon or somewhere -I forget the actual plot at this point- and when he tried to activate it, it blew up." She looked down at her lap and sighed. "The shockwave alone wiped out most of a small town. Somehow, he managed to survive."
"He always does."
"Yeah. The thing was, I don't think he was ever prepared to deal with the fact that someone could get hurt. You remember how it used to be. You both made a bunch of noise about how evil you were, but I don't recall either of you ever hurting anyone. Hell, most of his henchmen were synthetic, so even when his labs blew up, there weren't any casualties." She looked away, suddenly sad. "If you could have seen him after... it was as though all the life had drained out of him. I saw him when they brought him in. They said he just knelt down and begged them to arrest him." She shook her head. "His mother came to visit once, just to tell him she never wanted to see him again. Now he just sits in his cell muttering to himself."
The two women were quiet for a long time, then the woman in green spoke.
"I've reconciled with my brothers."
"Really? That's wonderful! What made you...?"
She smiled, looking over at her daughter, then back at her one-time adversary. "It's hard to be selfish once you have them, isn't it?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I guess it is."
"Well, I realized that so much of what I'd been doing with him, had been done out of selfishness. My older brother had always tried to teach the rest of us the virtue of selflessness, but we never got it. Oh, I guess the twins did, but I know I sure didn't." She shrugged. "I get it now."
"Back doing the hero thing? Yeah. The thing is, there are warrants out for my arrest, which makes it kind of hard for very effective heroics."
Realization dawned in the other woman's eyes. "And you'd like me to make those warrants go away."
"No. No, I just want the chance to make up for so much of what I've done. I feel I can do a better job of that with my brothers than rotting in a cell." She looked up, eyes pleading. "I just need time. Time to prove how much I've changed. Can you convince your bosses to give me that?"
The former hero smiled at her old enemy. "Well, I do say I can do anything, right?" She extended her hand. "I'll do my best."
The woman in green shook it, a smile on her face. "Thank you. Thank you so much. I don't know how I can ever repay you."
The other woman grinned wide. "Eh. No big."