Man of Yesterday, Woman of Tomorrow
Disclaimer: Duke Nukem and Shelly "Bombshell" Harrison are properties belonging to 3D Realms and Voidpoint. I own neither the characters nor their respective titles.
WARNING: This story contains course language. Reader discretion is advised.
Shelly heard the knock on her door to her apartment. Opening it up, her eyes narrowed into a glare as she saw who was outside.
"Hey, kid." A deep gruff voice spoke. "How have- wait, wait!" She cut him off, slamming the door in his face. "For God's sake, Shelly, can we please talk?"
"I just want to talk."
"I said go away!" Shelly repeated sharply.
"Just...Jesus." She heard him scowl. "Just give me five minutes, okay? Five minutes, and then I'll be out of your hair."
Shelly stood quietly for a long while, her hand on the door lock. Part of her was hoping that he would just move on, that he would lose patience and go away. Closing her eyes, Shelly exhaled as she unlocked the door and drew it open, letting him in.
"Five minutes," she said.
Closing the door behind her, Shelly turned away, moving to the den before finally forcing herself to face him, crossing her arms as the two of them stared hard at each other, taking in each other's appearances.
At 6'4 and 210 pounds, Duke's muscle-bound form easily towered over her smaller, more lithe form, his short blonde military crew cut a sharp contrast to her long, wavy brown hair.
His casual clothing, a red tank top with jeans, clashed with the pristine blue and grey GDF-issued body armor that Shelly wore, his strong, ruggedly masculine features and lantern jaw contrasting her heart-shaped face, his black sunglasses locked on her angry eyes.
The differences between them were such that one would be hard-pressed in believing that the two of them were siblings.
After all, who would have guessed that Duke "Nukem" Newcome would have had a sister, let alone a step-sister?
The two step-siblings shifted uncomfortably. Fidgeting, Shelly cleared her throat.
"So, uh, how have you been?" she asked suddenly. "You look like you've lost some weight."
Duke shrugged. "Yeah. Things are good. I've, uh, I've been making some changes to my lifestyle. I've been going to AA meetings."
"What?" Shelly gasped in mock surprise. "The famous Duke Nukem is going to AA meetings now?"
"Yeah, well, when you wake up beside a dumpster one morning and can't remember what you did the night before, well..." he trailed off for a moment, then lowered his eyes, shaking his head. "Things have been, uh..."
He remained quiet for a moment, looking as if he were struggling internally, as if he didn't want to make the admission out loud, as if for fear that the façade of Duke Nukem would crumble if he were to so much as suggest even a hint of weakness.
Finally, he sighed and came clean, "Things have been kind of rough, to be honest."
Shelly blinked in surprise as his muscular shoulders sagged.
"I've lost Duke Burger," he admitted. "I had to sell my mansion. My various vehicles. Everything. I'm now living in an apartment that's so dirt cheap and crappy that it makes this place looks like the fuckin' Ritz."
Shelly watched him for a long time, taking everything in.
"...That bad?" she asked.
He gave a single nod. "Yeah."
She stood up straight, her features softening. "I thought you had a new game in development."
Duke frowned, rubbing the back of his head.
"Yeah, well, I haven't heard anythin'. It was supposed to be called 'Duke Begins' or something, but Gearbox and 3d Realms cancelled it." His lips curled angrily. "Fuckin' Pitchford."
Shelly crossed her arms. "What about your movie?"
Duke's frown deepened. "Been trying to get that one made for years now. Thought I managed to get somewhere with Paramount, though. There was even talk of gettin' John Cena to play me. I tried gettin' in touch with them along with my agent, but so far, nothing. I'm not gonna hold my breath."
For the first time in her life, Shelly was speechless. Duke had always carried himself with such bravado and charisma, with such strength, but now he seemed...tired. Vulnerable, even. Although he would never openly admit it - he was just too proud and cool.
Duke remained quiet for a while, his black tinted sunglasses hiding his eyes.
She couldn't help wondering what was going on through his mind right now. The Duke she knew would crack jokes and quote Ash from "Evil Dead", Roddy Piper and various other characters and actors, but looking at him now...he seemed like a shadow of his former self, and it worried her, as much as Shelly hated to admit it.
Duke looked around her apartment, shifting his jaw, his eyes hidden behind those damn sunglasses, his features unreadable. Finally, just as Shelly was about to open her mouth, he returned his sunglasses-covered eyes to her, looking at her seriously.
"...How...how have you been?" he asked.
Blinking for a moment, Shelly let out a slight laugh and rubbed a hand against the back of her neck.
"Uhh...Yeah, uh, things are good," she replied.
"Hm." Duke grunted, looking uncertain as to what else to say.
As loud and overbearing as he can be at times, he was never one for casual conversation - that much Shelly knew. Clicking his tongue distractedly against the roof of his mouth, he then gave an approving nod. "I heard the good news about your new game."
Shelly shrugged, giving a slight smile. "Yeah, I was surprised by how successful it was. I was a little nervous, admittedly, just because I already had a bad game before that and, you know-"
"Yeah, yeah." Duke nodded in understanding, his features softening. "You didn't have any reason to be nervous. I knew you were going to be something. After all, you're my sister."
Shelly dropped the smile.
"You are unbelievable," she said, shaking her head with disgust, letting out a scoff.
"What?" Duke said in confusion.
"You always find a way to make it about yourself!" Shelly retorted.
His brow furrowed, taken aback by the outburst. "What?! What are you even talking about?"
She shook her head and looked away. "Never mind."
"No, don't 'never mind' me; I want to know!" Duke said as he grabbed her shoulder with one hand. "What the hell are you talking about? What's goin' on?"
Shelly whirled around to face him. "You really want to know?! Alright. Let's start with the fact that in all the time I knew you, you never once congratulated me on anything!"
"Bullshit!" Duke retorted. "I've congratulated you!"
Duke opened his mouth, then he stopped, his brows creasing as he struggled to remember.
"I...It was..." He clenched his mouth. "I can't remember right now, but I have congratulated you in the past."
"No you haven't, Duke!" Shelly shook her head angrily. "I remember very well every little thing you did and didn't do! Let's talk about how after our parents divorced you haven't written a single goddamn letter to either me or Mom. Not. A. Single. One! Let's talk about how you always chose your countless whores over your own family! While you were being celebrated as the great 'savior of humanity,' you didn't even attempt to reach out! You never even thanked our Mom in that shitty autobiography of yours!" She then made a mock grand gesture, "'Why I'm Sooooo Great!' Very fitting title. Very telling. You never cared about either me or Mom!"
Duke stood stiffly.
"What did you say?" he said in a low voice.
"You heard me just fine, Duke."
"Whoa! Who do you think you are?! Just who the fuck do you think you are?! I've cared about you both-"
"No you don't!" Shelly interrupted. "You care only about yourself! Otherwise, why didn't you come visit us? Why weren't you there when Mom was in the hospital?! You made no effort to help us out, so don't pretend now that you do! You never helped us out financially! You never got us involved with any of your games! Instead, you made it all about you and your booze and your various sluts! Even the fucking Holsom twins were given a spotlight in that shitty game of yours!"
Duke winced. "Oh for Christ's sake, Shelly, how many times do I have to tell you already?! I tried getting you in!"
Nukem scowled. "Look, I admit I'm not exactly big brother of the year material, but I did try several times! It wasn't my fault that the producers didn't include you! And as for Mom, she never liked the kind of games that I was a part of!"
"I wonder why!" Shelly retorted. "Hadn't it ever occurred to you that the universe didn't revolve around you?! When was the last time you did something for Mom?! Hadn't it ever occurred to you to make a game that she would have liked?! No, because you are so fucking selfish! No wonder why Mom wanted nothing to do with you - you're just like your dad!"
At the mention of him, Duke tightened his hands into fists, his nostrils flaring angrily.
"Don't you dare compare me with him," he hissed, raising a finger.
"You better take that finger out of my face, Duke, or I will break it off in your ass." Shelly threatened.
Duke stared at her for a long time, his face reddening. Letting out a deep, shaky breath, he lowered his hand, looking as if he were bracing himself for the coming tidal wave of pent-up rage.
"You want to know why I was successful?" Shelly said as she crossed her arms. "Because I worked hard for it! It was based on my merits, not yours! People were always comparing the two of us! Ever since we were kids, people looked up to you, idolized you! I was constantly in your shadow! Everyone wanted to be with Duke because you were so 'coooool', 'raaaaad', 'badass', blah blah blah! I was sick and tired of it! Every day I had to try and prove my worth, even in high school! And now that I'm in the limelight and you're in the dumps for once, it's only now that you decide that I'm worth your time!"
Duke's hand clenched. "Shelly-"
"I'm not finished!" Shelly interrupted, her whole form shaking. "All my life, I only wanted your approval...and you couldn't even give me that!"
Her voice started to lower in volume and crack, her lower lip trembling. "Was- was I really that lousy a sister to you? Was...was nothing I had ever done worth a pat on the back? Am...am I really that meaningless to you?"
Duke's features softened. "Shelly..."
She raised up a hand, then closed her eyes, shaking her head slowly as she tried fending off her tears. "Don't. Just don't."
Duke shifted in discomfort, looking uncertain as to what to do or say. He was good at a lot of things, mainly killing alien scum and surviving impossible odds, making the most with whatever tools or weapons he had available, but right now... he looked like he was at a loss.
Wiping her eyes, Shelly shook her head. "When you told me of the possibility of us working together on a game, I was so excited! Finally, a chance to prove myself to you, that I am something! Something worthwhile!" She then smiled. "But you know what? I'm glad I wasn't featured, because if it hadn't been for that, I wouldn't have been given my own series. I would have been the 'plucky sidekick' to be featured on and off again, if I was ever lucky enough. It's only now that I realize that I never had to prove a damn thing, and not to you of all people! I'm not even your sister! General James Holloway is my real father, not George Newcome. So, let's go our separate ways, because I'm done with you."
She then turned her back to Duke and gestured to the door. "You can go now. I've said my piece. You can show yourself out."
Shelly waited as minutes counted by, the apartment unnervingly quiet.
Duke exhaled behind her. "Shelly-"
"Go, Duke," Shelly said softly. "I've never mattered to you, and I'm fine with that. Let's not pretend that there was any love lost between us. Let's not pretend our sharing a mother makes us siblings. So, just...go."
Shelly heard him breathe, just standing there. Finally, she heard footsteps slowly approaching her.
"...I'll go," Duke began, "but...just...hear me out, okay? Just...let me say something to you before we move on with our lives. Please."
Shelly remained still, praying that he would just leave.
"...You were right," he admitted. "I was being selfish. I was unfair to both you and Mom...and..." Duke then cleared his throat, "I made mistakes. A lot of mistakes. I should have been a better brother to you, a better son to Mom, and...well..." He exhaled loudly, "I'm...sorry."
Surprised, Shelly turned around to face him, astonished by what she heard.
Had he really said that?
Duke had always been unapologetic, even when they were kids, so to hear a word of apology from him of all things was a miracle, all things considering.
Duke licked his dry lips as he stared down at her.
"I've...never been good with this whole touchy-feely crap. You know that. But...that doesn't mean I don't care about you. It just means that I'm just...bad at showin' it." He squirmed, looking really uncomfortable. "I didn't...I didn't realize that I had made you feel that way about me, and I'm sorry. Even if your old man is Holloway...that doesn't take away the fact that you are my sister. I've always cared about you, Shelly. Always had, always will. You don't have to believe a word I'm sayin', but...I just thought I let you know."
He then looked away. "My reason for coming to see you wasn't just about your game. As ya pointed out, I am a bit of a narcissist."
Shelly raised a brow.
Duke frowned. "Okay, okay, a huge narcissist!"
A smile perked up one corner.
"Better," Shelly nodded, her eyes twinkling amusedly.
Duke then took a deep breath.
"I just wanted to let you know that I'm going to be going away for a while." Shelly looked at him worriedly, opening her mouth when he raised up a hand, "No, I'm not going to prison, if that's what you're wonderin'. I just want to get myself cleaned up, and...I don't know how long it's going to take me. I might be gone for a long time, and I don't want you to worry about me. Also..." his voice softened, "I just want to give you some...brotherly advice. Don't make the same mistakes as I had."
She scoffed. "And here I was thinking of getting a harem of scantily clad men!"
"Aw!" Duke gave a look of disgust, causing Shelly to laugh. "What- aww! Oh. Oh God, there's an image I don't need!" He then looked seriously at her. "You're seriously not going to be doing that, are you?"
"I'm considering it." She watched as his face darkened. She then raised up her hands in a placating gesture, "I'm kidding! I'm kidding! Kind of..." Shelly muttered the last bit under her breath.
Duke's hard features softened. "In all seriousness, though...be a better person than me, Shelly. Don't follow in my footsteps. You were better off being your own person. You've come along way, and you've got a good thing going. Don't mess this up. I'm proud of you, kid. I really am."
Shelly stared, moved by his words.
He tilted up his head in thought. "I don't know how long I'll be gone for...but...if you ever need me...I'll be there for you, no matter what. That's a promise. Okay?"
Shelly said nothing for a long time, then gave a single nod.
"Okay," she finally spoke, mustering up the strength to talk.
Duke nodded back to her, giving a single grunt of approval, the corners of his mouth turning upward slightly. Finally, he looked away.
"I think you are in good hands," he nodded to himself. "The video game industry has certainly changed, that's for sure. Very different from the one I remember. I'm not sure where my place is in it. Hell, I don't think I even have a place in it anymore. The industry has moved on without me." He stood still in contemplation, his shoulders sagging. Finally, he lifted his head and faced her. "You might be able to carve your name into it and make a difference, though. Possibly more than I ever could. So, uh...good luck."
For the first time in her life, Shelly was completely speechless.
Clearing his throat, Duke motioned to the door.
"I'll...I'll just leave now," he cleared his throat, turning away.
As he neared the door, Shelly called out, "Duke." She watched as he paused. "Umm...thank you. I really appreciate what you said."
Shelly then absentmindedly tucked a bang behind her ear. "Just to let you know, Duke...even if we never really got along...I've...I've always respected you. Your time to shine will come again. After all...you are my brother."
Duke smiled genuinely, catching her by surprise. Yet another first.
"Glad to have the vote of confidence...even if it seems unlikely."
Shelly shrugged, "Well, you never know. I mean, if a muppet like Donald Trump was able to make it into Office, well..."
She then folded her arms together. "Do you think the world will be ready for two wisecracking FPS brother and sister bad-asses?"
Duke smirked. There was the Duke she knew.
"Wouldn't that be something?" he grinned. Her brother then shrugged. "I doubt it will be anytime soon...but I'd love to see that be a thing. Until then, though, the world will have to wait."
His door touched the handle when Shelly spoke again, "You know, I found out that I have a stepsister."
Looking over his shoulder, Duke raised his brows in surprise. "No shit?"
Shelly nodded. "Her name is Aurora. She's about my age, but she's thinking of running for President. Before you go on this self-discovery of yours, it would mean a lot if you stopped by for a bit and said hello."
He remained at the door, then nodded.
"Yeah," he nodded again. "Yeah, I can do that." His brows furrowed thoughtfully. "A woman president, huh?" He then shrugged his massive shoulders. "I see no reason why we shouldn't have one. After all, we've had a bunch of retarded ones already, current one included."
"Yeah." Shelly smirked. "You have to admit, that would be pretty kick ass, right?"
Duke grinned. "You bet your sweet ass it would!"
The two blinked at each other.
"...Uhh, that came out wrong."
Duke coughed. "Sorry. Just not used to, uh-"
"Yeah, you really need to improve on your interactions with the female sex more," Shelly nodded. "Not all of them is a potential fuckbuddy, you know."
"I know, I know," he sighed, giving a reluctant nod. Duke then tilted his head slightly. "You know, there had been a time when I considered running for President."
"Why didn't you?" Shelly asked curiously.
Duke shrugged. "I'm not into that. I know the kind of guy I am, and politics...I just have no patience for it," he replied. "Besides, I'd probably mess that up as well."
"You couldn't be any worse than our current President," Shelly said softly.
He scoffed good humoredly.
"Thanks for the vote of confidence." He lifted up his chin with a thoughtful look on his face. "President Duke...I have to admit I like the sound of it. My penis is getting erect from just thinking of the possibilities."
Shelly made a face.
"Gross," she winced as Duke laughed. "Too much information, Duke." As Duke's laugh died down, Shelly then bit her lip. "Um, one last thing. Would it...um...would it be okay if we...stayed in touch?"
Duke looked at her in surprise, then smiled.
"Sure thing, kid. I'd like that. I really do. Stay out of trouble."
"You as well, Duke." Shelly waved.
He waved back. "Good luck out there. It's a tough world. Remember, I always got your back if you need anything. All you have to do is give me a call and I'll drop everything. See you around."
And with that, he was gone. As Duke disappeared out the door, Shelly found herself marveling at what had occurred, reeling from disbelief. Part of her wanted to believe that it had all been a dream or that she had been on something, and because of that she followed after him, watching him wait by the elevator until finally he stepped inside and proceeded down.
Stepping back into her apartment, Shelly gave a small laugh in shock as she locked the door behind.
It really had been real.
By all accounts, Duke Nukem was a Neanderthal, a leftover relic from antiquity transported into the modern age. A guy who would probably feel more at home in Ancient Greece or Rome, so unapologetically crass and hedonistic.
And yet...she saw something nobody else had seen. Something that the world was unlikely to ever see. Even if he was a lout, she saw a glimmer of a man underneath all of that machismo, and deep down, it impressed her. She only wished that that part of him was made evident to everyone else.
Shelly didn't know what the future held for Duke Nukem. She didn't know if the world had indeed moved on without him, as Duke believed it had. The world may view him as nothing more than a modern day Greek hero destined to fall into obscurity, but after today, Shelly felt certain of one thing - whatever awaited him, in the end, he was her brother. As exasperating he may be at times, for better or worse, Duke Nukem was her brother, and she cared too much about him.
He may fail in his attempts, but for all his faults, of which there were a great many, he never gave up, just like her, and hopefully after today, he'll find a way get back onto his horse and ride again, hopefully emerge a better person by the end of it.
Until then, Shelly was going to carve out her own niche in the game industry. She's got big shoes to fill, no doubt about that, but one thing was certain - whether he succeeded or failed, Duke Nukem would not go down without a fight, and Sherry was determined to be there for him, whether it be to celebrate his triumphant return, or to comfort him when he finally crashed and burned.
For the first time in her life, Shelly prayed for her brother's sake as she looked out the window of her apartment, watching as he rode off on his motorcycle into the setting sun, toward an uncertain future.
"I love you, big brother," Shelly said softly. Wiping her tearstained eyes, she kissed her finger and pressed it to the window as she watched his departing form. "Take care of yourself, Duke."
Shelly could only watch as Duke Nukem drove on and on until finally he became a small blip that disappeared entirely from view.
Authors Notes: So, the idea for this fic came from the fact that the creators of Duke Nukem were also the creators of Shelly "Bombshell" Harrison from "Ion Fury" and "Bombshell", plus the fact that her bio stated that the character's dislikes were "blonde hair, sunglasses and bubblegum", an obvious reference to the King. Technically speaking, in a sense they are brother and sister, so I kind of thought why not?
Hope you liked this, everyone.