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A Piece of Rebellion

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Unikitty arrived first, appearing at the front door with no apparent method of arrival. They greeted Ma with a cheery, "Hi-ii!" and bounded inside to greet Good Cop as well.

"Hi, Good Cop!"  They grinned and butted their head up against his shoulder. "It's so good to see you!"

"It's... good to see you too." He smiled weakly. "You're very... touchy."

Unikitty leaped backwards, ears back. "Is that bad? I can stop!"

"No, it's okay! I'm just..." Good Cop averted his gaze. "...not used to it, I guess."

Unikitty cocked their head. "Good Cop," they said seriously, "we are going to turn that frown upside-down! I know we don't know each other that well, but I bet we're going to be best friends!"

"That will be good for them," Ma said. "They haven't been very social for a while now."

Good Cop tried very hard not to think about the reasons why they hadn't been social. "Yeah," he said.

The doorbell rang and Ma quickly excused herself to answer it. Unikitty started hopping up and down. "Eeeee I wonder who it is! I can't wait!"

It turned out to be Wyldstyle and Batman, keeping considerable distance between each other even as they stood together on the front step. Batman mumbled something unintelligible. Wyldstyle elbowed him. "Be polite," she said.

"I am being polite."

"Don't worry about it," Ma said. "It's good to meet you under... better circumstances."

Batman nodded and slunk inside, Wyldstyle whispering "Sorry!" under her breath as she followed him.

They sat down in the living room, Unikitty draping themself across Batman's lap, to his dismay. The group managed to make smalltalk until the doorbell rang again and they heard Metalbeard's voice: "How do ye propose I be getting inside?"

"Oh boy," Wyldstyle said. "I... didn't really consider that."

Unikitty scrunched up their face in concentration. "Move outside?" they suggested.

Good Cop shrugged. "Fine with me."

It took some time to get a table and chairs for everyone outside. Good Cop put down the two chairs he had carried out, and turned around to go get more, only to come face-to-face with Benny, floating above the ground.

"Hi!" said Benny.

Good Cop smiled nervously. "Hi?"

Benny stuck out his hand. "My name's Ben," he said, "but you can call me Benny! It's great to meet you!"

They shook hands awkwardly. Good Cop could tell that Benny's smile was forced, and after a moment, he averted his gaze. "Sorry," Benny said. "We didn't get off to a very good start, uh, before, so I wanted to start over. Now you introduce yourself!"

"Okay," he said. "My name's Good Cop, but... you can call me Gilligan."

Benny's eyes widened. "Really?"

"I mean..." Good Cop coughed. "Normally, only our parents call me that, but... you can too, if you want."

In the back of his mind, he felt Bad Cop's surprise. It was the first thing he had felt from him all day.

Benny grinned, and this time it was genuine. "Okay! It's great to meet you, Gilligan!"

"Same to you, Benny." Good Cop found himself smiling, too.

His Pa put the last chair down and put a hand on his shoulder. "Your Ma and I are going to go inside. Will you be alright out here?"

Good Cop nodded without completely registering the question. Pa smiled at him and said, "We'll be inside if you need us," before he left.

Benny grabbed his hand. "Come on! Let's go sit with the others!"

Good Cop hesitated.

It hadn't quite dawned on him before, but he was slowly beginning to realize how utterly surreal this situation was. Everyone here was a Master Builder -- the same people he had been enemies with three months ago. And here they all were, sitting in the backyard of his parents' lot, and Good Cop had no way to defend himself.

Not true -- he was a trained police officer, after all. If need be, he could hold his own in a fight, even without weapons. The only problem was that there were five of them, all of them dangerous. Good Cop sized them up, one by one. Master Builder powers aside, he had seen Wyldstyle fighting before and she was nothing to sneeze at, Unikitty had incredible power hiding behind that cheerful facade of theirs, he didn't have a lot of information about Benny but the astronaut had been able to escape capture after he had been reported, Batman was Batman, and Metalbeard... Good Cop didn't want to think about what would happen if he had to fight Metalbeard unarmed.

"Hey, Gilligan? You okay?"

Good Cop shook his head and looked up at Benny. "Yeah," he said, his voice shaking. "I'm fine."

Benny frowned, but didn't press the issue. He tugged on Good Cop's arm, and he let him lead him towards the others.

"There be the man of the hour!" Metalbeard said when he approached. "Haven't seen ye since... well!"

"Long time no see," said Wyldstyle.

"Weren't you here last week?" said Batman. Wyldstyle rolled her eyes and didn't answer him.

Good Cop smiled nervously and sat down. He regretted that action the next moment, because what if he had to get up quickly? He couldn't stop thinking about what would happen if something went wrong, if all five Master Builders turned against him. A small part of him knew that he was being irrational, but the fear he felt was real.

He played out each scenario in his head. If things went wrong, his best bet was to run. If he flipped the table over onto the ones sitting across from him, that would slow down Batman, Unikitty, and Metalbeard... but Benny and Wyldstyle were sitting on either side of him, and he knew Wyldstyle, at least, could move fast...

"Are you sure you're okay?"

"Benny --"

"What?" said Good Cop, shaking his head and looking around. "Is -- is there a problem?"

He didn't mean to sound defensive, but it came out that way anyway. Now everyone was looking at him, and Good Cop felt dread rise up in the back of his mind. He knew it. Of course nothing would go right. He braced himself, gripping the edge of the table, and --

"Maybe we should give him some space," Benny said.

Unikitty immediately jumped back away from the table, knocking over their chair in the process.

"Not like that," he said. "I mean... don't you think we're rushing things? How do you feel about this?"

He directed the last line at Good Cop, who was still sitting there frozen, gripping the table. "Oh," he said. "I feel... fine. I'm fine."

Liar. You're on the verge of a panic attack.

"You shut up," Good Cop snapped. "I'm fine. I'm fine! If you can say you're fine, then --"

He cut himself off, remembering that he was with company, he couldn't be having arguments with Bad Cop now. He took a deep, shuddering breath, and realized he was standing up. When had he done that? He sat back down again and let go of the table.

"Maybe we are rushing things," said Wyldstyle.

"I don't understand what you mean," said Good Cop.

"We... kind of sprung this party thing on you out of the blue. We probably shouldn't have done that. I mean..." She hesitated.

Good Cop spoke up. "You don't think I'm ready to be around this many people."

"Kind of? I don't know. Are you?"

"No," he said. "Absolutely not. There's too many people here, more are coming, and I feel like I want to run into traffic. If there were any traffic around here. Ha!"

Nobody else seemed to find that funny. In fact, they all looked visibly uncomfortable.

"But you know what?" Good Cop said. "I knew I wasn't ready for this. I knew all it would do was make me feel awful. That was the point."

"Whoa, what?" Wyldstyle furrowed her brow. "Why would you make yourself miserable on purpose?"

Good Cop leaned back in his chair. "Because normally, when I'm put into situations like this, it's Bad Cop who switches in to deal with it for me."

There was a moment of silence before Good Cop heard the voice in the back of his mind: You've got to be kidding me. You're trying to force me out?

"I'm not forcing you. If I wanted to force you, I could just force a switch. I'm trying to encourage you."

No, this is worse. You're trying to manipulate me.

Good Cop felt a chill run down his spine. Bad Cop was keeping his voice calm, but Good Cop could feel his anger coming off him in waves. He shuddered, took a deep breath, and said, "You don't care about me, do you?"

Of course I care! Why do you think --

"I'm deliberately putting myself through pain to try and get you to come out again, and you don't care!"

I do care, that's why I don't want you to do this!

"If you don't want me to do this then stop shutting yourself away!" Good Cop shouted, slamming his fists on the table. Next to him, Benny flinched away, and Good Cop, for the second time, remembered he shouldn't be arguing with Bad Cop in front of guests. He forced himself to take another deep breath and stood up.

"I'm going inside," he said. "I'll be out again in a few minutes."

Everyone else stood up at once, except for Batman, who appeared to be texting someone on his phone and only stood up when he realized everyone else had. "Hang on," said Wyldstyle. "Is there anything we can do to --"

"No," Good Cop snapped. "Sit back down."

Unikitty immediately plopped themself on the ground. Everyone else remained standing. Or floating, in Benny's case. "We came here to help, you know," Wyldstyle said.

You're not helping, Bad Cop said.

"You shut up," said Good Cop. "Not you, Wyldstyle, I just -- I think we have to work this out ourselves, okay?"

"Guys..." Unikitty folded their ears back. "I think we should listen to him, okay?"

"Thank you."

The others looked uncomfortable, and Wyldstyle opened her mouth to speak again. Good Cop turned away just as she said, "What are you going to do when Emmet gets here?"

Emmet. Emmet would be arriving soon, along with the robot that had somehow attached themself to the group of Master Builders, and -- oh. Oh.

"I changed my mind," he said. "Party's cancelled, everyone go home. We'll tell them to go home too when they all get here."

"Good Cop --"

Metalbeard, who had been quiet while watching the scene play out, spoke up. "Yer about to have an attack."

Good Cop, who had been doing his best to push away the cold dread rising up inside him, who had been trying so hard to keep himself from trembling, completely broke down. "Well, now I am!" he screamed, and let himself collapse onto the grass.

There was a minor kerfuffle, with everyone moving forward at once, Unikitty's high-pitched shout of, "Don't crowd him!" and everyone stopping in their tracks. Good Cop barely heard them, could only focus on the sound of his own fast breathing, the pounding of his heart, and Bad Cop's voice in the back of his mind.

Alright. Alright. You'll get through this and we'll continue our talk when you've calmed down. Just take deep breaths.

Good Cop wanted to shout at him, wanted to ask why he wasn't helping, why he was punishing him like this, but the only thing that came out of his throat was a muffled sob.

"Should we get his parents?" Benny said, his voice pitched with worry.

"Why are you asking me?" said Wyldstyle.

"I don't know! I don't know what to do!"

"Everyone quiet!"

Someone nudged his shoulder and he flinched. He lifted his head just enough to see that it was Unikitty. Wordlessly, they lay down beside him and pressed themself against his trembling body, and Good Cop leaned back against them. Unikitty closed their eyes and a low rumbling sound arose from within them, which confused Good Cop until he remembered Unikitty was part cat, they were purring.

Unikitty's presence and purring managed to calm him enough gain control of his breathing, and after a while -- Good Cop wasn't sure how long -- his panic attack began to recede. There were tears running down his face, and Good Cop was acutely aware of how he had broken down in front of everyone, and his cheeks burned with shame, but he stopped trembling and forced himself to sit up.

The others were still staring at him, concern written across their faces, apart from Batman, who was unreadable. Good Cop got to his feet, along with Unikitty.

"Did that help?" Unikitty asked.

"Yeah," said Good Cop, his voice shaking. "Thanks."

Then he raised his hand to his face and spun his head around to Bad Cop.

The first thing Bad Cop did was fall over, his scribbled mouth open in shock. Unikitty yelped. "Are you okay?"

Bad Cop mumbled something incomprehensible and shook his head. Unikitty's ears went back. "You're not okay? What happened? What do we do?"

"'m fine," he said, clearer this time. He stood up and brushed himself off. "Good Cop jus'... forced a switch," he said. "Didn't expect 'im t' do that. 's disorienting."

What? Good Cop said. Thought I was too soft and pathetic to ever force --

Bad Cop groaned. "Don' start," he said. "Y'r not... thought y' would respect my wishes, tha's all."

Your wishes? Your wishes? You mean your wishes to abandon me, worry our parents, give up on life for no good reason...

Bad Cop wanted nothing more than to tell his other half to shut up as he went on and on, but he could still feel what remained of the panic attack affecting his words, and their shared body wasn't over the physical symptoms, either. Bad Cop's heart pounded and he took a deep breath before decidedly ignoring Good Cop.

"Okay," said Wyldstyle. "So what's the deal?"

He shrugged. "Dunno. Ask Good Cop."

Oh no. You are not switching back until you explain to everyone here why you are doing this!

"If I haven't 'old you, why d' y' think I'll tell a bunch of strangers?"

Unikitty's face fell. "We're strangers?"

"No," Bad Cop said. "Y'r worse. We used t' be enemies. Jus' three months ago, our orders were t' capture you an' lock y' in th' Think Tank. Don' y' remember?"

"Vividly," said Wyldstyle, scrunching up her face.

"So why 'r y' doin' this? Why 'r y' bothering with me?"

"Is 'we care about ye' not good enough?" Metalbeard said.

Bad Cop shook his head. "It doesn' make any sense. Why d' y' care about me? Wha' did I do?"

"Saved the universe?" Benny offered helpfully.

"Doesn' count."

Wyldstyle's eyes widened. "Oh my gosh, I can't believe I didn't realize this sooner. You're depressed."

Bad Cop flinched back like he had been struck. "Wha'?"

"It all makes sense now." She took a step towards him. Bad Cop took a step back. "I mean, we've known Good Cop's depressed, and that he's been suicidal before -- dunno if he still is, you're the better judge of that -- but we never considered what you might be feeling. You share the same head, of course you'd be affected by the same depression!"

"I don' --"

"So you're depressed," she continued, "and you're probably suicidal, judging by how you've been acting. This explains everything. What you're going through is just a depression thing, which means it'll go away eventually and everything will be fine."

"Okay, stop," Bad Cop snapped. "I'm not depressed," he said angrily. "I can 'andle myself. Even if I was depressed, it doesn' work like that. I've seen 'ow it works. It destroys a person from th' inside out. If I 'adn't been there for Good Cop during 'is worst times, I don' know 'ow things would've turned out."

"So why are you leaving him now?" Wyldstyle asked.

"Because..." Bad Cop screwed up his face. "Because... 'e doesn' need..."

I need you. There was no anger in Good Cop's voice now. Why are you doing this? I love you. Please stay with me.

The Master Builders were all staring at him, and Bad Cop's heart was pounding. This couldn't be right. This couldn't be right. He wasn't the one who had panic attacks, he wasn't the one who broke down in tears, he was the one who had to be strong, who had to carry Good Cop through the darkest times, who had to protect him --

-- and if he couldn't even do that --

-- if he left Good Cop all alone --

"I don' want t' talk about this," he said weakly.

To his surprise, Wyldstyle nodded. "Okay," she said. "But can you do one thing for me?"

"Wha' is it?"

"Stay out for the rest of the evening," she said. "Just... spend time with us, okay?"

Bad Cop hesitated, then shrugged. "Fine. 's long as Good Cop's okay with it."

Of course I'm okay with it. Why wouldn't I be?

"I don't know. I..." He shook his head. "Good Cop's fine with it."

"Good." Wyldstyle cracked a smile. "It'll be good for you to be social. Isolating yourself is a symptom of depression, you know."

Bad Cop sighed. "'m not... whatever. I don' care."

Unikitty tilted their head. "What do we do about Emmet and the, uh, others?"

"A car just pulled up," Batman said casually, still staring at his phone.

Wyldstyle started. "What? How did you know that?"

"I have good hearing."

I can't do it, said Good Cop. I was wrong. I can't deal with him. I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry --

Bad Cop covered his face and sighed. "Nothin' t' do about it now. Let's go say hello to Business."

"We're here!" Emmet said cheerfully, turning off the car. In the back seat, Guardbot chirped a "Yay," enthusiasm that was not shared by the person in the passenger's seat.

"I can't believe you dragged me into this," Business said, slumping down in the seat. "I can't believe I agreed to be dragged into this. I am sure looking forward to Good Cop yelling at me some more!"

"Don't say that!" Emmet smiled at Business, who did not return the gesture. "You were invited for a reason, after all!"

"Yeah, because everyone thinks I'll do something to hurt myself if I'm left alone."

That was precisely the reason Business had been invited, but Emmet couldn't exactly tell him that. "No, it's because we want to get to know you -- the real you!"

Business rolled his eyes. "And I suppose the me that tried to Kragle the universe was some fake me? Because it sure felt like the real me. More than I feel now."

"Well..." Emmet desperately searched for something to say. "Then you have to... uh... I don't know. But I don't think the you that wanted to hurt people is the real you."

"Well, if things had gone according to plan, nobody would've had to have been hurt."

"But people were hurt, and the real you is trying to fix that, right?"

Business was quiet for a moment. "Yeah," he finally said. "Yeah. Let's get this over with."

The three of them got out of the car and walked up to the entrance. "By the way," Business said, "is there something we should all call you that's not just Emmet?"

"Uh... what do you mean?"

"Like, I looked at the list of pronouns Unikitty sent to you."

"Uh..." Emmet suddenly found the concrete steps leading to the house very interesting.

"Some of them are kind of weird, but if you want me to use them, I'll do it."


"Business," Guardbot said sternly, "you are doing that thing where you make Emmet very uncomfortable, and you need to stop."

Business stopped. "Okay! Sorry, just making sure."

"I mean..." Emmet was still looking down at the ground. "I'll figure it out eventually, but... just use my name for now. Please."

Business shrugged. "Okay."

Ma answered the door when Emmet knocked, smiling at the three of them. "Emmet! It's so good to see you, dear. And Guardbot, and --" Her smile faltered. "-- and Business. Come on in!"

They shuffled inside, Business hunched over and not looking anyone in the eye. Ma's smile was forced, he could tell, and he didn't want to look at it any longer than was necessary. Why was he even here?

Emmet was oblivious to the tension in the air, of course. Guardbot was probably aware -- they were surprisingly empathetic for a robot -- but they made no mention of it. The two of them exchanged smalltalk with Ma as they walked into the living room, where Pa sat. He glanced up when they walked in and met Business' gaze for one, brief moment. Business wanted to sink into the floor.

What a far cry he was from Lord Business, president of Octan and the civilized universe, the man who had raised up an army of robots, the man who almost succeeded in making the world perfect. Now he had to share an apartment with a generic construction worker and a defective robot, could barely get himself out of bed most days, and took regular trips out to the countryside to be yelled at by his old underling.

Not like Good Cop was doing much better. He was barely half of who he used to be! Business told that joke to Emmet shortly after they moved in together, expecting to get a laugh. Emmet did not find it funny.

Emmet nudged him, snapping him out of his thoughts. "The others are outside. Want to go join them?"

"No," said Business, then thought about the alternative, which was to stay inside alone with Good Cop's parents. "Never mind. Yes."

He regretted it the moment he stepped into the backyard and everyone stared at him. Only Unikitty was smiling. And Good Cop -- oh, Bad Cop was out. Business lost track of his train of thought when he saw Bad Cop's scribbled face, and ended up staring for what was probably longer than appropriate before forcing his eyes away. Bad Cop himself was sitting down at the table, not looking at him.

"Hi everyone!" Emmet said, waving at the group.

Wyldstyle tore her gaze away from Business and grinned at Emmet. "Hey! It's great to see you!"

Business edged away from the group while they greeted Emmet and Guardbot. He didn't need to be a part of this.

Unfortunately, the others noticed what he was doing. For a moment, he thought they would let him get away with it, but then Bad Cop stood up and walked towards him, Unikitty trailing close behind.

Business straightened up and took a moment to compose himself. "Bad Cop," he said. "It's... good to see you're doing well. Congrats on the face."

"Thank you, sir," Bad Cop said stiffly.

Business visibly winced, along with everyone else in the vicinity. Bad Cop didn't correct himself, so Business spoke up hesitantly. "You don't... need to... call me that. Anymore."

Bad Cop shrugged. "Yeah," he said, as if only half listening, and abruptly, his head swiveled around to Good Cop.

Business braced himself. He knew what was going to happen. Good Cop was going to start screaming at him, telling him how awful he was, asking him over and over again why he did what he did. Business could only repeat the same thing: he wanted absolute perfection, and it wouldn't come about naturally. And that he was sorry. It wasn't enough, of course. Inevitably, Good Cop kicked him out and he had to call Emmet to come pick him up.

So, it was the same thing after all. That was fine. Business was prepared for this.

He was unprepared for the sheer rage he saw on Good Cop's face.

"This is your fault!" Good Cop shouted, and tackled Business to the ground.

"Don't!" Emmet shouted, even as Good Cop punched Business' face over and over. Through the pain, he heard Good Cop shouting.

"This is your fault! You're the reason Bad Cop thinks he's useless, you're the one who threw him away like he was nothing! Why? Why?"

Someone pulled him off. Business lay there, stunned, while Good Cop squirmed in Metalbeard's grip.

"Bad Cop tried! He tried so hard to do a good job and it wasn't enough! It was never enough! Why?"

Someone was helping him off the ground. Good Cop's Ma? Why? Pa was standing at his son's side, putting his arms around him once Metalbeard put him down. But Good Cop was still not done.

"It should have been me! I know I'm worthless, I know I'm nothing! I know I'm too soft and pathetic to do anything without Bad Cop holding my hand -- why did you do this to him? Why didn't you get rid of me?"

His head hurt. Both of Good Cop's parents were at their son's side now, and Emmet was holding Business steady. There were tears running down Good Cop's face and he choked on a sob as he continued.

"Tell me I'm worthless! Tell me I'm nothing! I know it! You know it! I'm the one who deserves it! Why aren't you saying anything?!"

"You didn't deserve any of what I did to you," Business said weakly.

It took both of his parents to hold Good Cop back.

"Stop it! Stop lying! This is my fault! I deserve -- I deserve --"

"You deserved so much better."

Good Cop stopped, leaning forward in his Ma's tight grip, breathing hard. For a long while, no one said anything, until a new voice spoke up.

"He's right, you know," said Vitruvius.

Everyone stared at him, floating there with the sheet draped over him. Vitruvius spun around and made a "woo-oo" sound.

"I'm going to kill you!" Wyldstyle screamed.

"Too late!" Vitruvius said gleefully.

Business fainted.

Guardbot took Business inside and stayed with him while the rest spoke to Vitruvius.

"You're dead," Good Cop said in shock. "You're supposed to be -- what --"

"He's not dead," Wyldstyle said angrily. "He's just doing the ghost thing."

"Ghosts are pretty dead, Wyldstyle," said Benny.

"More to the point," Emmet said, "Vitruvius, have you really not told Good Cop that you're, uh, still around?"

"I was, uh, busy," Vitruvius said. "But, since everyone else is visiting right now, I thought I'd show up too."

"You could have warned me!" Good Cop shouted.

"Really!" said Ma sternly. "Letting people think you're d- gone is really rude!"

"I'm sorry," he said. "I won't lie, I had... other reasons. But it's time to end the secrecy. Good Cop, Bad Cop, Wyldstyle -- " Good Cop and Wyldstyle exchanged confused glances. "-- there's something I need to tell you."

"Take off the sheet and then we'll talk," said Wyldstyle.

"It's about why I chose Good Cop and Bad Cop to be the Special."

" can keep talking."

Good Cop felt Bad Cop stir in the back of his mind. You mean he's going to explain why he ruined our life?

"I should've chosen Wyldstyle," Vitruvius said. "I'll start off with that. Even though she didn't find the Piece, I should've chosen her when it turned out you two had."

"So why us?" Good Cop said. "I know you made up the prophecy. Why did you insist on it being us?"

"Because..." Vitruvius sighed. "...I knew you, once."

Good Cop scrunched up his face. "We've never met."

"We haven't," said Vitruvius. "And I'm very sorry for that."

Oh no, Bad Cop said. He is not saying this. There is no way he's saying this.

"What?" Good Cop was getting more confused by the moment, and judging by Wyldstyle's expression, so was she.

"There is no easy way to say this, but... I'm sorry."

Bad Cop told him what was happening. Good Cop stiffened.

"...for not being there for you..."

This didn't make any sense.

"...throughout your life..."

This could not be happening this could not be happening this could not be happening --

"...but I'm very proud of what you've done and how you've grown." Vitruvius paused. "Sons."

Good Cop stood there with his mouth open, acutely aware of his Ma and Pa standing on either side of him with the same expressions. Bad Cop wordlessly pressed for control. Good Cop gave it to him.

"No," Bad Cop said. "Y' don' get t' do this. Y' don' get t' show up over thirty years after abandonin' us, when we're livin' happily with our real parents -- th' parents that wanted us -- you don' get t' show up tryin' t' claim -- t' claim us!"

"I tried to find you." It was surreal, hearing Vitruvius' sad voice behind the cut out smiley face of the sheet. "But your mothers were the ones who left you at the orphanage, and when Lord Business started hunting down Master Builders, well --"

"Mothers," Bad Cop said flatly. "There were two of them."

"In one body, yes."

"We spent our entire lives thinkin' we were alone," Bad Cop said, his voice pitched with anger. "Tha' there was no one else like us. Tha' there was somethin' wrong with us. Tha' we weren' wanted. And now y'r tellin' us -- tellin' me -- you -- you -- !"

Bad Cop shouted a word that made Unikitty's ears go back and his Ma say numbly, "Language, dear," without taking her eyes off Vitruvius.

"I'm sorry," Vitruvius said. "I should have tried harder to keep you. I did want you. Both of you."

Bad Cop's legs felt weak.

"And your parents -- your Ma and Pa -- they want you too." Vitruvius lowered to the ground and pulled off his sheet, a faint smile behind his beard. "I've seen some of what you're struggling with. We all want you here, Bad Cop."

His parents -- his real parents, not Vitruvius, who had shown up out of the blue dropping this on him -- held him tight. Behind him, Unikitty gently pressed against his back and started purring.

Bad Cop broke down into tears, surrounded by people who wanted him.

Guardbot and Business came out a while later, Business holding an ice pack to his face, and found everyone sitting in a pile with Bad Cop and his parents at the center.

"What's going on?" Guardbot asked.

"Group hug!" said Unikitty.

"Help me," said Batman, trapped under one of Metalbeard's mechanical arms.

Guardbot surveyed the scene. "Can I join?"

"Sure!" Emmet said happily, curled up next to Wyldstyle.

Guardbot stepped forward, then hesitated and turned back to Business. Business shrugged. "I'll sit out of this," he said. "I --"

"Get over 'ere," Bad Cop said.

Business blinked. "Okay."

Business and Guardbot sat next to Emmet, who put an arm around them both. Business had no idea what to do, so he just sat there, looking around nervously. "Are you sure --"

"Look," said Bad Cop. "It's goin' t' take us a long time t' ever come close t' forgivin' you. We can work on it. I'm sure th' others will, too."

Metalbeard laughed and patted Business roughly on the back, nearly knocking him over. Business smiled nervously.

"So what'd I miss?" he said.

"Vitruvius is our biological father."

"Oh. Wait, what?"

Bad Cop shrugged. "We were adopted. We spent a long time not knowing who our biological parents were. Now we know."

Business blinked. "That's... uh..."

"A lot to take in, I know," said Vitruvius, standing some distance away. Business yelped in surprise.

"You're -- you're not even a ghost anymore! What is going on?"

"I would be a ghost, if Wyldstyle would give me back my sheet. Wyldstyle, would you please --"

Wyldstyle clutched the sheet closer to her chest. "Nope!"

Vitruvius shrugged. "Oh well. Time to return to the world of the living, I guess."

"I'm not even going to try to understand anything anymore," Business said, shaking his head. "Man Upstairs help me, this is bizarre."

Bad Cop felt Good Cop perk up. Wait. There's something I need to do.

"What is it?" Bad Cop said.

Can I come out for a bit?

Bad Cop nodded and switched out. Wyldstyle looked up at the sound of their head swiveling. "Hey, Bad Cop said he would stay out for the rest of the evening."

"Sorry," said Good Cop. "It's just... we're all happy, right?"

Everyone shifted their positions slightly to look at him. "I certainly hope you are," said Ma.

"I mean..." Good Cop shook his head. "We might not be happy, but I think... I think we might be getting there. It'll just take time, and a lot of hard work. Right?"

Business made a small noise of agreement. At least, Good Cop assumed it was agreement.

"Right," he said. "But... okay, this is going to sound weird. I think it'd be okay if the story ended here. Wouldn't it? If... if you let us handle the rest ourselves. You've done so much for us, but I think we'll be fine on our own."

"Who are you talking to?" his Pa asked.

"So... is it okay?" Good Cop continued. "To let the story end here? To let us find our own happiness?"

And from the world around them, from the grass they sat in to their own heartbeats, from the depths of all the people that surrounded them, came the wordless, loving response: Yes.

Good Cop smiled. "Thank you."