Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible sun within us.
-- Sir Thomas Browne, 1658
A/N: I was wondering the other day exactly how did Dexter make enough money to establish his own corporation? This is my take on the founding of DexLabs and, more importantly, the founding of friendship. The story is set firmly in my A/U and takes place a few years before Planet Fusion starts its invasion of Earth. All mistakes are mine. All characters belong to Cartoon Network. I promise to return them once I'm done playing.
Aneko-Kitana has done some smashing artwork for this story - the link to her deviantART account is in my profile. Look in her scrapbook!
Chapter One: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?
"Girls! Oh, girls!"
"Yes, Professor?" chimed three voices.
"Come here, please!"
Professor Utonium contemplated the phone still held in his hand. He hung it up as a trio of pretty young girls flew into the room in streaks of pink, blue, and green light and hovered in the air before him. A smile lit his handsome face as he looked at his daughters, and he was rewarded with two wide smiles and a fond frown. It wasn't every man that could live with three super hero children, but in truth he could not imagine life without the Powerpuff Girls. They were maturing beautifully as they aged and their powers were growing with them. In less than two weeks they would be finishing fourth grade, and all of them – the Professor not least among them - were looking forward to the extended summer break.
"What's up, Professor?" asked Blossom, all business as usual.
"I was just on the phone with a very well-known scientist. He's in the area and wants to consult with me on robotics, so I invited him to come over for dinner tonight so we can talk."
Bubbles clapped her hands. "Goody!"
"Great," grumbled Buttercup, crossing her arms. "More boring science talk."
"Now, now!" chided Utonium, amused at their predictable reactions. "I expect all of you to be on your best behavior and make him feel welcome."
"Do you know him?" wondered Bubbles. "Have you met him before?"
"I only know him by reputation, Bubbles. I've never met him. Actually, come to think of it, I don't know anyone that has met him. I don't know where he went to college, but he's published quite a few papers on a wide range of subjects in the past few years. He's a brilliant scientist and one of the world's foremost experts in robotics."
"What time is he coming?" Buttercup quizzed.
"He'll be here at six. Now let's get this place ship shape! Come on! We've only got a few hours. Chop, chop!"
Two giggles and a huff answered, but all three girls set to cleaning with good will. Blossom paused in midair as her sisters zoomed around the house putting things away.
"What's his name, Professor?"
Utonium smiled at her as he answered. "His name is Dexter."
Despite the fact that they anticipated a good meal and dull conversation, Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup were increasingly curious about their guest. They watched as the Professor grew more and more pensive as the hour for dinner approached. Utonium chewed on his unlit pipe and paced as if he was pondering some calculation far more vital than how much cinnamon to put in the topping for the apple crisp. The girls exchanged incredulous looks and amazed smiles, recognizing the symptoms. They had learned long ago that the only things that could rattle their father this thoroughly was a pretty woman cornering him or someone he thought was smarter than he was.
"Professor," called Blossom, flying into the kitchen.
"Yes?" he answered too quickly for him not to be uptight.
"Are you nervous about meeting this Mr. Dexter?"
Caught, Utonium replied, "I'm . . . well, yes, a little. I was just remembering some of his published works. His insights into plasma-generated laser technology have pushed that science forward by a decade. I did some checking and it seems our Mr. Dexter is something of a recluse. He doesn't attend conventions or give lectures, but in just a few years he's done a lot for science. It's not every day you get to help someone you admire so much."
"I bet he's just as excited to meet you!" defended his daughter. She tilted her head and looked at her father with undisguised pride. "After all, you're smarter than everybody."
"Yeah," piped Bubbles, come to fetch napkins as she and Buttercup set the table, "and you made us!"
"And if that doesn't impress him, he's not much of a scientist!" Buttercup called, making them all laugh.
It was nigh on zero hour. Utonium almost dropped their dessert when the doorbell rang. He gaped at the clock, but the meal was almost ready and their visitor was right on time.
"I'll get it!" called Buttercup, who had stationed herself nearest to the door just so that she could see their guest first. She was eaten up with curiosity to know what sort of scientist it took to make the Professor sweat. Hovering in mid air, she looked out the peep hole in the front door but there was no one there that she could spot. "Weird," she muttered, sinking back to the floor.
The doorbell rang again after a minute. Growing annoyed, she flew up and looked. Still no one there. Was this a joke? Or a trap?
"Buttercup!" Blossom called impatiently from the kitchen when the bell rang a third time.
"There's no one there!" she shouted back, equally impatient, and to prove her point she yanked the door open.
There was a boy about her own age standing on the step. No wonder she hadn't seen him - he was even shorter than she was. Buttercup took in his carroty-orange hair, black-framed glasses, and white jacket at a glance and was not in the least impressed. The boy took a step back and blinked in astonishment as she hovered in the air before him. She reasoned he must either be new to Townsville or a complete moron if he failed to recognize a Powerpuff Girl, but she didn't see that as a reason to be particularly nice, especially since they were expecting company any minute now.
"What do you want, kid?" she demanded, determined to be rid of this scrawny punk. She leveled her best scowl at him.
He looked wholly uncertain of the situation as he carefully asked, "Is this the Utonium residence?"
She couldn't place his accent, and that along with his glasses and his lack of assertiveness instantly annoyed her.
"Yeah," she snapped, "and we don't want any. Go bother the Smiths, shorty! They should be out of jail by now."
And she slammed the door in his face.