Roxanne had thought, after the Titan Incident was done and over, that she was finished with that whole 'getting kidnapped' thing.
After all, while she was probably the single most kidnapped person in all of Metro City – possibly the world – the vast, vast majority of those kidnappings could be attributed to one kidnapper. Megamind. And he didn't need to kidnap her anymore (although some of his 'surprise dates' felt uncannily familiar) because Metroman was still retired, and even if he wasn't, if her boyfriend wanted to spend time with her all he had to do was phone her after work. Or stop by her apartment. For the past month they'd even been toying with the idea of moving in together (mostly they hadn't gotten around to it because they were both insanely busy) which would put the last nail into the whole 'kidnapping' period of their relationship, once and for all. Roxanne really didn't expect anyone to take up the mantle of 'reporter abductor'.
In hindsight, that had probably been naïve. Or maybe optmistic. Accurate information notwithstanding, the whole reason Megamind had started kidnapping her in the first place was because everyone thought that she was dating the hero of Metro City. And while a lot of the details had changed, technically speaking, she was still dating the hero of Metro City. Only that was Megamind now.
But the new supervillains didn't seem to care whether the city's hero was a buff guy in white spandex or a blue-skinned genius with a fondness for popped collars.
The first time Megamind had kidnapped her, she'd been genuinely frightened for herself. She'd never met him before, not up-close and in person, and when the black smoke had closed around her and something hard and mechanical had grabbed her by the arms, she'd screamed. She'd felt a trill of terror race down her spine. She'd been sure that the nefarious villain really meant to kill her, and that her only hope was Metroman. In essence she had played the part of the damsel to a T, which had probably been part of what secured her the role as something of a side career from then on.
The second time he'd done it had almost been as bad as the first, when he'd suspended her over the pit of snapping alligators, although when she thought back to it she'd actually been more worried that the restraints would give out than that he'd intentionally drop her into it. His inventions had a tendency to not work sometimes, after all, and she'd been at the scene of enough of his 'failures' to know that firsthand. That had been the really scary part of the experience.
The third time, he'd placed her on a conveyor belt that led into a mesh of gnashing mechanical teeth. That one hadn't been nearly so bad though, because even if he'd tied her up from head to toe the conveyor had moved very, very slowly, and it had been pretty long, and after the first four seconds she'd realized that she if she rocked back and forth she could just roll herself off of the side. Metroman had still burst in to save the day, untying her and taking Megamind to prison, but after that, the kidnappings had stopped being quite so alarming. Megamind would tie her to a chair and threaten her with razor sharp saws, and she'd realize that the mechanism wasn't even capable of moving close enough to actually cut her. He would sit her in front of all kinds of guns, but they only ever contained stun gas or showy-but-harmless laser lights or, as her keen eye for detail had picked out on a number of occasions, no ammunition at all. He'd cackle and posture and throw every cliché in the book at her, and after a while it almost became like a bi-monthly Halloween fun house. She found herself daring him to do better. In a weird, never-in-a-million-years-admit-it-out-loud kind of way, she almost started looking forward to it, if only to see what new variation on the old favorites he'd pull out the next time around. Even when the whole thing started getting old and tired, she still hadn't minded it so much. The death traps became boring. Megamind, on the other hand, was always kind of amusing, and by the time he 'killed' Metroman she'd long ago stopped believing that he was an actual threat.
That wasn't the case with her latest kidnapper, who had her gagged and blindfolded and, if his ranting was to be believed, tied to a bomb. The side of her head was throbbing painfully from where he'd struck her with something. Both developments were fairly new for her. Megamind had always used knock-out gas on her, or, barring that, just had Minion manhandle her to wherever they were going. He'd also never tied her to any kind of explosive. As she thought about it, that did seem kind of odd – lots of other damsels were regularly tied to bombs, rockets, and all kinds of other dangerous contraptions – but she didn't have the energy to dwell on her boyfriend's previous quirks just then. The genuine fear that was feeling had starting pumping adrenaline through her system, making her hyper aware of the ticking sound above her head, and the rough cadence of her kidnapper's voice.
"You will surrender yourself and your inventions to me before midnight tonight, Megamind, or your beloved Roxanne Ritchi will meet her explosive end!" he declared, before cackling. His evil laugh needed work. So did his banter, as a matter of fact, but by the sounds of it, he was fairly young and probably new to the concept of supervillainy. He probably rehearsed the whole thing a few times. That would explain the incredibly mechanical delivery he had.
Roxanne swallowed, hard, and rotated her wrists, testing her restraints. Her faith in Metroman's ability to rescue had largely stemmed from his invulnerability and his apparent love of justice. Even though they weren't actually in a relationship, she'd known he would save her, because that was just what Metroman did (before he up and left, anyway). She had faith in Megamind's abilities, too, but it was different there. Megamind could do anything he set his considerable intellect to. She was sure that he would come for her, not because that was the sort of person he was (because sometimes he still forgot to take the innocent bystanders into account), but because he loved her. That gave her more certainty than all of Metroman's combined powers ever had, and at the same time filled her with a kind of deep and unsettling terror. What did this villain want with her boyfriend? What would he do to him if he, in a fit of panic, actually just turned himself in? Even as she knew that he would come, a part of her hoped that he would stay far, far away from this latest madman and his giant, ticking bomb.
There was a beep from across the room, the sound of a connection being cut, she thought. She paused, trying to make her movements more subtle, not sure where her kidnapper's attention was focused now. He'd done a thorough job of tying her up. The knots were tight enough that she was starting to lose feeling in the tips of her fingers, but maybe… there had to be something she could do…
"Struggle all you want, Miss Ritchi. It won't do you any good," the villain said. He gave his evil laugh another try. It wasn't any better the second time around. There was the sound of leisurely footsteps striding towards her, heavy and pointedly ominous. It was almost reassuring to realize that this guy was a bit of a drama queen. She could handle drama queens. "Though perhaps you're enjoying your current predicament, considering… well, there has been some speculation on just when your little tryst with Metro City's latest defender got its start. Is this doing it for you, my dear?"
She grit her teeth around the gag, fighting off the dry, wooly feeling it put in her mouth. Was every nut-job in the city carrying a torch for her? What the hell? The footsteps got even closer, and in one of those moments of perfect clarity, she realized that he was standing front of her and that he'd neglected to tie her lower half. He couldn't have been more than an arm's length away, from where the sound of the footsteps had stopped. Seizing the opportunity, she brought her leg up as quickly and as sharply as she could, hoping and praying that he was the kind to strike the legs-apart, shoulders-back pose even when there was no one to see it. The top of her calf struck pay-dirt as it swept unimpeded through the air, only to connect with something soft and squishy with a satisfying amount of force. There was a strangled yelp and a string of curses.
She almost regretted it when there was another sharp blow to the side of her head. Stars danced behind her blindfold, and for a minute she thought that the subsequent sound of an explosion was in her head. Her ears started ringing. But then came the familiar whir of the brain bots, and the sound of laser guns firing, and a remarkably welcome voice shouting, in pure and shrill indignation, "you hit her!" as if it was the single most offensive act conceivable to man. Aw, she thought, still more-than-slightly addled. That's kind of sweet. When he got all indignant like that he actually sounded more like a stereotypical hero-type.
"Savage! Barbarian! Infidel! When I'm through with you there won't be enough left of your head to clone a copy of your brain and put it into a robot body!" he shouted, and there went that. But still. It was the thought that counted. There was more laser fire and swearing and the distinctive scent of burnt hair, and then something was whirring next to her wrists – all in the span of several frantic seconds – and she felt the pressure of the ropes release and a half dozen robotic arms gently lifting her up and, though it was hard to tell with her dizziness, presumably away. There was a tinkling crash and the scent of fresh, clean air, although only her nose could enjoy it. After an indeterminate length of time her feet hit the ground, and stumbled, reaching up to untie the gag and the blindfold. The brain bots clicked and whirred absently around her as she got her first, welcome sight of pavement, and gulped in a few deep breaths. She'd been on the job when whatever-his-name-was grabbed her, and the smooth fabric of her skirt caught uncomfortably around her thighs as she leaned over, hands on her knees.
"Ugh," she managed.
The explosion rocked her off of her feet, and would have sent her sprawling, but one of the brain bots caught her arm in time. She whipped around – too fast, her head decided, as he vision immediately went lopsided and she almost fell over again – and stared. The warehouse behind them had turned into a fiery wreck of destruction. Black smoke plumed from the top and a few stray pieces of debris rained down on the sidewalk, and she felt her heart stutter. A simple explosion wouldn't take out Megamind. Would it? No. No, of course not. Of course…
She took off at a staggering run, ducking low to avoid the worst of the smoke and b-lining for the building. Even though part of her would never really believe it if something happened to Megamind, another part of her was simultaneously certain that, one day, things would really go wrong. But not today. Just not today. She pushed her way across the road and back towards the nearest blasted-off door. Almost at the same time, something came careening down from the rooftop and landed a few feet away. It took a moment for the relief to properly settle in, and she halted, staring as Megamind and Minion touched ground. They had a young man dressed in red and black spandex suspended between them. He looked like he had probably seen better days, what with the soot covering him and the purpling bruises all over his face, but she was mostly focused on Megamind, who appeared to be perfectly fine and dandy in his rocket boots and power gloves, save for one tiny burn on the side of his forehead and some singeing on the bottom of his latest cape.
"Minion," he said, his voice dripping with derision. "Take this to the penitentiary, if you would."
"Sure thing. Do you want me to take the car or…?" he trailed off, as Megamind had already started walking away. "Right. Guess we should go by air. It's a nice day for flying." Shoving their latest capture under one arm, he obligingly took off, nodding an acknowledgement towards her as he did.
Roxanne didn't even realize she was moving until she'd crossed half the ground between them and had her arms around his shoulders.
"Are you alright?" they both asked in unison.
"Don't be ridiculous, of course I'm alright. That pathetic little idiot couldn't plan a heist if his life depended on it. He put his bomb in his own lair and then gave me his address-"
"A bomb which just blew up! What if you'd been caught in the blast? Is this the only burn you got, or are there others? You didn't fireproof this suit, did you? It looks scorched-"
"I'm not the one he decided to use as a punching bag! Look at your face! He bruised your face! Do you need me to call an amboolence? He didn't hit you anywhere else, did he?"
"I'm fine, that's not important, I'm not the one who was caught in an explosion just two seconds ago, and it's 'ambulance' and no-"
"But what if you have brain damage? And you didn't answer my question! He did hit you somewhere else, didn't he? Where was it? What did he do? I knew I let him off far too easy, I should have thrown him off of the pier with a pair of concrete shoes-"
"No, he didn't hit me anywhere else, he just hit me twice in the same place. And what are you talking about? Concrete shoes? That doesn't sound like you-"
"You pick some things up in prison, and I think I'll have to call in a few favors because he hit you twice in the same spot?"
"It's not such a big deal, he was kind of a limp noodle, and since we're on this subject you didn't answer my question which means you've probably got burns somewhere else-"
"Oh don't be ridiculous, if I was really hurt you'd hear about it, it's not like rigid stoicism in the face of terrible anguish is precisely my forte-"
She cut him off, then, shifting her grip a little and pulling him close enough to plant one on him. Her head was still throbbing and spinning a little, but she felt some of the tension leak out of his shoulders – and hers – as they kissed, his lips warm and pliant, a slightly smoky scent lingering in the air between them and sticking to their clothes. When she pulled back he blinked, looking slightly dazed for a few seconds, in that way he tended to from time to time. She let out a breath, starkly relieved that the whole ordeal was finished with now.
"Thank you for rescuing me," she said.
Megamind swallowed, his hands flexing slightly over her shoulder blades. "Oh. Um… well, you're welcome, of course," he replied. Then he cleared his throat and blinked a few times. It was amazing, really, that he still hadn't gotten used to all of the small displays of her affection yet. "You're sure you're alright? Because we probably should get you to a doctor or something like that. You could have a concussion. That's how the forget-me-stick works, you know, brain damage, and it's really just blunt-force trauma that does the trick-"
"Fine, fine," she agreed, trailing a hand up to the scorched blue skin above his left eye. "We should get this bandaged too."
He swallowed hard. "Okay."
She paused, and then grinned at him. "Just like that? Okay?" Not that he was a masochist, or anything, but as far as she knew he didn't care much for doctors.
"Well… I mean, if you feel half as badly about this," he said, gently laying his own fingers over top of hers, "as I do about that," he hovered one palm over the bruised side of her face, "then yes. Okay."
Her grin widened, and she leaned forward, kissing him again. "Okay," she breathed over to tops of his lips when she pulled back. "Okay. Good."
Roxanne sighed around the thick, uncomfortable material of her gag. She shifted a little, glancing up – even though she couldn't see past the blindfold – and staring towards the sound of the ominous tik, tik, tik over her head. She was tied to a bomb. Again. This guy really, really wasn't earning any points for creativity. After all, it had taken Megamind a few years before his tricks started getting repetitive. At least he hadn't hit her in the head this time, though. She'd been on her way home, not looking forward to all of the boxes she'd have to unpack (but resigned to the task, because she's let the brain bots try sorting her stuff once and never again) and wondering if they should order in a pizza when someone had grabbed her from behind. She'd gotten a good elbow into his gut before the knock-out gas hit.
"Ah, Miss Ritchi. I see that you're awake."
"Mmphmmrg," Roxanne replied, mostly because of the gag. What was this one's name again? She paused, trying to remember what the papers had started calling him. The Manic Bomber? The Maniac Bomber? Something like that. Regardless, he'd been sure to tie her legs this time around, which was disappointing.
"Ha! Struggle all you like, Miss Ritchi. It won't do you any good," he cackled.
You said that the last time, you idiot, she thought. At least he decided to forgo the offensive insinuations this time around, and from the sounds of his footsteps, he was keeping his distance, too, pacing back and forth well beyond the reach of any of her limbs. Roxanne sighed again, trying for the old boredom but falling a little bit short. That ticking sound, repetitive as it was, was actually quite unsettling. She shifted. Her restraints were really uncomfortable, too. "I suppose you think that your hero Megamind will be coming to save you again. Well, I wouldn't worry about that, Miss Ritchi. I learned my lesson from the last time," he continued, and she wondered how he thought he could get any proper banter done when the only other person in the room was gagged. "I'm afraid that by the time Megamind realizes where you are, it will be far too late. For the both of you!" He laughed.
It was still a really lousy laugh.
"Mmph," she replied, her brows furrowing atop the blindfold. What was his plan? A bait-and-switch? A decoy base? That seemed a little elaborate for someone who'd just graduated from 'not blowing up his own secret lair'. No, he'd probably just timed his ransom note so that Megamind would receive it and arrive right when the bomb was going off.
"As charming a conversationalist as you are, my dear, I'm afraid I really have to run. I prefer to watch my fireworks from a distance," he said.
There was a crash, and the creaking sound of groaning metal. Roxanne could almost hear her kidnapper whirl around as he gasped in dismay.
"Too bad there aren't any fireworks in prison! Except for that one display on the Fourth of July, but they only let you see that if you have good behavior, which I'm sure you don't!"
Megamind was working on his heroic one-liners. It was hard to try and do things from the other side, Roxanne knew that from the limited number of times she'd tried handling a camera – watching someone do things was considerably different from doing them yourself.
"Megamind! No! How could you have possibly discovered my lair?"
Being blindfolded was really annoying, Roxanne mused. She couldn't even see the undoubtedly unique picture of heroism that her boyfriend was making.
"That's for me to know and you to wonder, Bomber! Now release Miss Ritchi, and I might just go easy on you this time."
"Ha! As if I would… oh, crap."
There was a loud snap and a twang, like a large wire cord breaking, and then the sounds of shouting and laser fire and the distinctive rhythm of Minion's footsteps across the floor in front of her. A moment later the ticking sound overhead stopped. There was a cry of surprise, thankfully too deep to be Megamind's, followed by an electronic buzzing sound, and a light ping, ping, ping as what she rightly assumed to be a dehydrated cube hit the floor. Rapid footsteps drew towards her, and Roxanne found both the blindfold and the gag pulled away, to reveal a pair of worried, bright green eyes framed in a bright blue face.
"Are you alright?" Megamind asked. "He didn't hit you again, did he?" His narrow fingers worked away the knots at her wrists, and she risked another uncomfortable glance at the bomb behind her. The numbers had frozen with an hour to spare. Huh. For some reason, she thought it should have been a closer cut than that. "Because if he did I am taking that cube and I am finding the driest, most desolate desert out there, and-"
"No, no, he just tied me up this time," she assured him.
Oddly enough, that didn't seem to make him much happier. He was still glaring intently as he finished working her free of the ropes, and she watched him from the corner of her eye as they hurried out of the abandoned dock building, Minion following them and once again carrying her kidnapper, although it was subtler now that he was a tiny blue cube. Megamind shot the nearest door off of its hinges with his latest laser pistol – Roxanne was starting to think that she should carry one of those herself – and was still scowling fiercely, one hand closed around her wrist, as they walked out into the evening air. Or early night air, really, given how dark it was and how long she'd probably been unconscious for.
Minion cleared his throat. "I'll just, uh, take care of this then, sir?" he offered.
Megamind was scowling at the building behind them. He didn't reply. Roxanne shared an uncertain glance with Minion, and then reached out with her free hand, carefully touching his shoulder. He blinked.
"Hmm? What? Oh, yes. Of course," he agreed.
Minion shifted uncertainly, and Roxanne glanced between them, before nodding slightly in a gesture of 'it's alright, I've got it'. Sighing, Minion took off, and she looked back towards her boyfriend – who was still scowling at the building behind them.
"Guess we should call the bomb squad," she suggested. Again, he didn't answer her at first, and she was about to reach over and turn his head towards her when he briefly tightened his grip on her hand. Then he looked at her himself. She wondered if he even realized that he still had that fixed look of unhappiness on his face. "Hey," she said, at something of a loss. "What is it? What's wrong?"
He sucked in an agitated breath, his narrow shoulders heaving a little when he let it back out again. "I don't like this."
She smiled a little uncertainly at him, gave his hand a slight squeeze. "Yeah, well. I'm not a big fan of being abducted either. But it's okay," she assured him. "You got here on time. You got here early, in fact." Thinking, wondering if she could distract him, she tried for a subject change. "How did you find me so fast, anyway?"
He blinked. "Oh. That. That's just the tracking device," he replied.
"The tracking device," he replied, utterly nonplussed. "After the first time you were kidnapped – or, um, after the first time you were kidnapped by one of those idiotic little poser-villains – I implanted a tracking device in your ear." He smiled a little bit. "I actually got the idea from a documentary on animal shelters! Only mine's far more sophisticated, of course, not to mention even smaller. You didn't even wake up when I put it in pla-aa-ow, ow, ow, Roxy, kitten, you're crushing my hand!"
She let him go, her cheeks flushed with outrage. Megamind rubbed his slightly-crushed hand with his entirely un-crushed one, giving her a look of wary confusion, obviously aware that he'd said something wrong but not quite putting the pieces together just yet. He took a delicate step backwards.
"You put a tracking device in me while I was sleeping?" she demanded.
"…Ye-es?" he replied. Her expression darkened, and he quickly raised his hands in a placating fashion. "Now, okay, in hindsight I guess can see how that might have been just a tiny bit… insensitive?"
"Insensitive? You put technology in me without my permission! We've talked about this!"
"Well it turns out that it's a good thing I did it anyway because I found you, didn't I?" he countered, finding his own considerable nerve and folding his arms across his chest. "I mean, what if you'd said no and I hadn't done it and then you'd been kidnapped and I couldn't find you while who knows what was going on?"
Roxanne clenched her fists. "Why would I have said no?" she demanded.
"Boom! Little bits of Roxanne all over Metrocity, that's… wait, what?" He blinked.
Pulling back for a moment, Roxanne took a deep breath and counted to three inside her head. She closed her eyes briefly, and when she opened them again, Megamind was biting his lower-lip and shifting his weight a little bit from foot to foot.
"Well," he said. "Uh. Well, I… are you saying that you don't mind? Because if it's not a problem then I really don't see why we're arguing…"
She counted down from ten for good measure. "We're arguing because you put a tracking device in me without asking my permission!" she replied, gesturing widely with one arm to try and indicate the magnitude of how messed up that was. "Why would I have said no to a tracking device? It's a good idea! In fact we probably should have thought of it sooner! So why wouldn't you just tell me what you were thinking? I wouldn't say no unless I had a reason to, and if I had a reason, wouldn't you want to know what it was?" she demanded. Although given the choice, she probably wouldn't have wanted it put in her ear.
"I don't know!" he replied, throwing his own arms up into the air. "Yes! Maybe! I wasn't even thinking about it, alright? It just seemed like it would be better if I went ahead and did it because then it would be done and I could stop worrying about it!"
"Easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission, is that it?" she replied sharply.
"Exactly!" he agreed. Then his eyes widened. "I mean, no! Of course not! That's-"
Letting out a breath, Roxanne raised a hand to forestall any further objections. Megamind stared at her fingers, and then at her face, his unusual pensiveness exchanged for a more familiar look of uncertainty. And it was kind of sad, she decided, that an expression of deep-seeded uncertainty was one of the most common looks she ever saw on him these days, even if she was incredibly put-out with him. Some of the fight drained out of her, and her shoulders slumped a little. "I'm tired," she said. "I had a long day at work, and then this happened, and I'm not happy with you, but… right now, maybe we should just go home," she suggested.
He nodded, quickly, and swallowed, leading the way to where he'd parked the invisible car.
She sank into the passenger side seat after she'd finished fumbling around for the door handle, folding her arms around her and deciding that she probably wouldn't get any unpacking done tonight. Megamind glanced at her once, and then avoided looking at her again for quite a few minutes, his gloved hands clasped tightly around the wheel. He was wearing his 'lab' clothes, she noticed for the first time – the less extravagant, darkly colored fabrics fitting a bit more loosely on his frame, and the usual cape nowhere in sight. He'd probably been working on one of his new projects – maybe the city shield – when he'd left. In spite of herself, she watched him drive out of the corner of her eye, and felt something not entirely unlike sympathy.
He was scowling again.
"It didn't work," he said suddenly, the volume of his voice surprising her out of the stillness as they pulled up to a red light.
"What didn't work?" she asked.
His hands tightened ever further on the wheel, the leather crinkling around his knuckles, and he let out a sigh. "When I, er, gave you the tracking device, I thought I wouldn't have to worry so much anymore. After the last time… I didn't really want either of us to go through that again," he admitted. "But it didn't work. I mean, the tracking device worked fine, but the whole 'not worrying' thing was a complete bust. When I realized you were late coming home and I checked to see…" he trailed off and let out a brief puff of air, shaking his head. "I hadn't checked it since this morning. He could have grabbed you at any point in the day and I wouldn't have known! You could have been there for hours!" He blinked, and then looked sharply towards her, glancing back at the road only when the light changed. "You weren't there for hours, were you?"
"He grabbed me on my way home," she replied.
He nodded, obviously relieved, and turned down the side-street that led towards their road. Agreeing on a place of residence hadn't been easy. He needed a place with enough space and privacy for all his formerly-evil-currently-heroic inventions. She wanted something that was within reasonable commuting distance of downtown. In the end they'd compromised on an old fire station, which Megamind had spent weeks renovating and transferring his machines to. He'd only pronounced it ready for co-habitation a few days ago, but Roxanne hadn't minded the wait, taking her time to pack her belongings and say goodbye to her apartment. The old lair was still in use, though it was quickly becoming more of a storage space for her boyfriend's larger and less practical inventions.
The quiet returned as they pulled into the considerable driveway, and remained even once they'd both made their way into the apartment and Roxanne collapsed into the black leather sofa (with cream cushions – sometimes compromise was as vaguely ugly as it was weirdly touching) and leaned her head back, staring at the smooth lines of their ceiling.
She started to think.
When the hands on the clock ticked over past midnight, she was still thinking, but she finally lifted herself back up off of the sofa and made her way into the bedroom. She hadn't realized how filthy she was until she headed into the bathroom and looked at herself properly in the mirror. Amateur evil lairs were usually pretty grimy places, and this one hadn't been an exception. She peeled off her clothes and got into the shower, and only really started to feel human again when she had changed into her pajamas and left the bathroom in a cloud of steam, warm and clean and safe again.
Megamind was sitting on the side of the bed. He'd changed into his crescent-moon pajamas and was looking up at her from underneath his brows, his fingers tented nervously together. Obviously, he was expecting something. When a minute ticked past and she didn't say anything, he cleared his throat.
"It's my understanding that in these situations, the male is generally banished to sleep on the living room so-fa," he said.
Roxanne looked at him, crossing her arms and putting on an expression of careful contemplation, as though she were considering the idea. In truth, she was really wondering if there would ever come a time when she was immune enough to his 'kicked puppy' look to actually go that far. He would have to do something really, really bad – like 'Bernard' levels of bad – she concluded, in order for that to happen. As it stood she was still pretty angry about the whole tracking device thing, but in the end she couldn't hold onto it. She didn't want him doing things like that, but in the long run it wasn't worth the fight. Not for something that really had come in handy (though she would never say as much out loud, if only to avoid encouraging him). And how unfair was it that an alien with a giant blue head had one of the most compelling 'pity me' looks on the planet?
His expression fell further, and he stood up.
Roxanne rolled her eyes and moved to her side of the bed. "Oh, just get in," she told him, climbing under the covers and flicking off the lamp. There was a brief pause. Then the slope of the mattress as Megamind put his weight onto it, and the shuffle of blankets, but even as she felt one long-fingered hand reach for hers, she was still thinking all the while. But she closed her fingers around his anyway, and said "I'm still mad."
"I know," he replied. "I'm – I'm sorry."
"Are you really?"
There was a pause, as he seemed to mull that over. She heard him turn, and as her eyes adjusted to the light, she saw the outline of his head and shoulders on his pillow. "I'm not sorry about the tracking device," he admitted. "It was a good idea and it did come in handy. But I should have asked you first. I'm sorry I didn't."
She swallowed, and leaned over to press a kiss against brow. "Don't do it again," she advised, still thinking, an idea taking shape in the back of her mind.
"I won't," he promised.
"This is Roxanne Ritchi reporting live from Metro City Bank, at the scene of Metro City's latest disaster!" she shouted into the microphone, straining to be heard over the sound of explosions emanating from the building behind her. "Megamind has engaged in an aerial confrontation with what appears to be a new criminal group, and it remains unclear whether-" She was cut off as a newer, larger explosion rocked the pavement, and something human-shaped hit the road just a few feet away. Asphalt rained up into the sky, and Roxanne's nerves lurched unpleasantly as she dodged, gesturing her new cameraman, Bill, away and trying to get a look at whoever had fallen. Minion pulled himself up out of his freshly-made crater, his new suit doing an admirable job of shrugging off the damage. He caught her eye and shot her a thumb's up before launching himself into the sky again.
"Hold on, sir! I'm coming!"
Roxanne caught Bill's eye and gestured upward, and he obediently took the camera off of her and turned it to the fight going on overhead. It was a little hard to keep track of. Three yellow-suited figures darted around above the bank, apparently flying under their own power while the brain bots tried to swarm them, and Megamind cackled at them. Whoever they were they'd taken out his microphone system, however, and so it was hard to hear what they were saying, or see much around the black clouds and sparks of blue lightning that obscured the battlefield. She wasn't sure that all of the electricity flying around was Megamind's, though, as the trio of villains seemed to throw balls of sort-of-lightning around with dangerous abandon.
"It remains unclear whether this confrontation is meant to be an attack on the bank itself, or merely a posturing display to attract the ire of Metro City's chief defender!" she continued, pulling her microphone back up and keeping her eyes fixed overhead. There was another loud, sparking explosion, and the sky filled with warring blue and golden lightning bolts. She raised a hand to her eyes, reflexively ducking back, and then dashed out of the way as two grappling figures zoomed down to just above street level. Her eyes widened as she saw Megamind fighting hand-to-hand with one of the yellow-clad figures. The young woman was almost as slender as he was, and her hair crackled and flew wildly around her face. It took Roxanne half a second to realize that there were little arcs and streamers of lightning in it, dancing between the strands and dragging across her fingers, creating dangerous-looking sparks where they met with the various contraptions Megamind had outfitted himself with.
Her mouth went dry when they sped past, and the yellow woman managed to rip off one of his gloves, sending it clattering to the pavement. Then they were gone again, up overhead. Roxanne darted forward. She closed one hand over the fallen glove before she turned back and shoved both it and her microphone into Bill's fumbling grip, and then stripped off her jacket, scooping up her purse.
"What are you doing?" Bill demanded.
"Just keep shooting," she replied. When she pulled free a small, hand-sized dehydration gun, he took a few rapid steps back.
"Yeah," she replied, flipping off the safety switch and turning her gaze skyward again.
This wasn't really what it was for, of course. The dehydration gun was a decision they'd agreed upon for her own personal protection. It had a good range but a pretty small charge, and she'd spent the past few weeks practicing with it, getting used to aiming and all of the little quirks of firing and fighting back the reflex to pull rather than squeeze whenever she shot. She'd even tried practicing with a more conventional handgun at a local shooting range, but the recoil on them was completely different, and shooting bullets wasn't really anything like shooting lasers. So she'd given it up in favor of a home-made target range cobbled together between herself and the brain bots, and she was pretty good at it, she thought. Not that she had a huge frame of reference. But the whole thing had been for self-defense, to try and mitigate the kidnapping trend that had kicked up again, and it potentially worked well enough for that purpose.
She was starting to think, though, that maybe being the innocent bystander-slash-damsel-in-distress just wasn't suiting her anymore. After all, 'Music Man' and Megamind had, in turn, gotten sick of their roles. Truth be told she was getting sick of her lot in it all, too, which hadn't changed very much despite everything, and as she dashed into a better position and aimed her little gun skyward, a feeling of rightness swept over her. It was the way she'd felt when she'd stepped in front of a camera for the first time, a weird combination of nerves and confidence that almost made her dizzy with exhilaration.
Maybe she was still the well-known girlfriend of Metro City's hero, but no one got to decide what that really entailed except her. And possibly her boyfriend.
She kept her focus on the sky, even when Bill reminded her that, not to be a bother, but shouldn't she be reporting what was going on? And she should, she knew. She loved her job and was proud of how good she was at it, but the on-camera stuff had always taken a back seat to investigative journalism, and neither of them would really matter if the guy she loved got ripped apart while she was just standing there telling people about it. So she shushed him, and focused, and waited until one of the three flying villains swept into range. It was an odd moment. Her mind seemed to completely disconnected from her nerves, from the sounds of chaos and Bill and the cold air around them, until all she could see was the slow blur of a distant face and all she could feel was the solid weight of the trigger underneath her finger.
She'd always liked the whole 'space-future gun' idea.
The first shot went wide, but as her target whipped around to see who'd fired on him, the second hit him dead-on his frazzled, lightning-crowned head.
Roxanne felt a surge of triumph. She'd hit him! She'd actually done it! The small blue cube dropped harmlessly to the ground, one less enemy tearing through the sky to overload the brain bots and assault Megamind and Minion. She was still internally celebrating when the huge arc of golden lightning landed about two centimeters away, and she backpedaled furiously, raising the gun again and trying to see which one of the remaining two had targeted her. It took her a second to spot another slender young woman in the air, and she spied her just as Minion grabbed her from behind, his joints popping and crackling furiously around the sparks she was throwing off. Hastily, she took aim again and fired another shot, but the beam fell short.
Stupid low-charge battery thing. She knew she should have taken a bigger gun, but then it wouldn't have fit inconspicuously in her purse, which had seemed kind of important at the time.
Minion wasn't letting go, though, and just as Roxanne was becoming alarmingly certain that either he or his captive was going to explode, a ray beam burst through the dark clouds and struck the thrashing woman in the chest. Even from a distance Roxanne could see her eyes widen right before she went limp. Her own heartbeat was thundering in her ears as Megamind flew into view, his suit missing a few new pieces in addition to his lost glove, and one of his hands holding another unconscious electrical woman by the collar.
Megamind looked down towards her. He put his hands on either side of his mouth. "Are you alright?" he called down.
She raised a hand in the 'ok' symbol, and he nodded, one of the surviving brain bots zipping off at a word to collect the dehydrated super-villain off of the ground.
Dusting herself off, she remembered herself then, shoving the gun back in her purse and then reclaiming the power glove and her microphone from a somewhat wide-eyed Bill. Raising a hand, she made an effort at flattening her hair – which had decided to spring up in the wake of all the electricity flying around, and put on her best reporter smile. "Once again, Megamind is triumphant! The perpetrators of this unexpected attack have finally been apprehended…" she began.
By the time she finished closing off the report Bill still seemed to operating on autopilot, Megamind and Minion had both disappeared to turn in the criminals, and the repair crews and bots were already starting to pour in. She made her way back towards the news van, tugging her cameraman along behind her and noticing for the first time that the cuff of her dress pants had been singed. Jeez. She went through clothes faster than any other reporter she knew.
Bill had only just slid the van door open when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned, half expecting some new disaster, but it was just Megamind looking slightly-worse-for-wear.
"I thought you went to the police station," she said, ignoring Bill's surprised gasp.
"I did," Megamind replied, before pointing down at his shoes. "Rocket boots, remember? I can move quickly when I need to." He cleared his throat, and shot Bill a sidelong glance that wasn't entirely friendly. He had developed what was, in Roxanne's opinion, an unhealthy suspicion towards cameramen in general. "Can we talk? In privát?" he asked, undermining the pointed nature of his tone by completely botching his pronunciation. Fortunately, Bill had enough of a sixth sense to know that Megamind sort of wanted to punch him in the face all of the time, and didn't need any more encouragement than that to hop into the van and slide the door shut with an obliging click.
Megamind looked at her.
She stared expectantly back at him.
Several quite seconds ticked by in awkward silence.
"…I don't know what to say," he finally blurted.
Roxanne did a double-take. "Then why did you want to talk to me in private?" she wondered.
"Well I have to say something, don't I?" he replied. "I mean you usually don't just jump into the fights like that. It's pretty dangerous."
She crossed her arms and leaned one of her shoulders against the side of the van. "Are you objecting to it, then?" she asked.
He mulled that over for a few seconds. "…I don't think so," he eventually decided. "Don't get me wrong, I'm not a big fan of nearly-barbequed Roxanne, but it wasn't so bad, I guess. At least you dodged the lightning. That was a good shot you made, too, and those hyperactive morons were really annoying. Absolutely no creativity in their banter, and, oh, the electricity puns. 'Here's a shock for you!' and 'this will raise hairs!' and 'bet you didn't think I could strike twice!' every other minute, it wasn't just excessive, it was offensive. Not that I'm one to criticize a healthy use of puns, of course, but there's a fine line between 'clever' and 'ridiculous' and let me tell you, those three crossed it miles back-"
"Getting a little off-topic here, hon," she reminded him.
"Right! Right. The whole shooting thing. Right." He fidgeted briefly with the cuff of his right glove. "So… we're good?"
She laughed. "Just as long as you don't mind me occasionally shooting at the people trying to kill you, I think we are," she replied easily. He smiled.
"If you're going to put it like that…"
"I know. I bet you're wondering why we didn't figure out to get me some sweet side-arms from the beginning. Which reminds me." Reaching back into her purse, she fished out her gun again. "I think this one's a little too small. It ran out of juice partway through the third shot, although the range probably had something to do with that."
"Well that won't do," he agreed. Then he leaned forward a bit, surprising her when he took the initiative to kiss her, his lips still turned upwards into a smile against her mouth. He rarely ever did that, and almost never in public. "Think you can make it home alright without it?"
It took her a second to get her breath back again. "I've still got a can of mace," she reminded him, almost certain that she was wearing the same slightly-glazed expression that he usually sported.
"Hmm. Not good enough," he replied, twirling his cape as he took a step back, and graced her with his still-present smile, eyes bright. "I'll pick you up after work today. And we'll go out to dinner!" he decided. "You and me! How does that sound?"
"It's a date," she agreed, wondering at his sudden elevation in mood, but finding herself sharing it regardless of the cause.
His expression softened a little. "Great," he agreed, his boots activating and lifting him off of the ground. "And Roxanne?"
"It worked," he told her. At her puzzled look, he elaborated, already on the verge of taking off again. "I don't think I'm going to have to worry so much anymore."
The first sniff of the sour-sweet tang of knock-out gas hit her while Bill was still setting up, the exterior of city hall possessing only the most eager onlookers this early in the morning. The sky was grey, and the decorations had already been set up for the celebration of Metro City's fourth annual Metroman Remembrance Day. Her eyebrow ticked up, and she held her breath, calmly gathering a piece of Kleenex and another item from her purse. The sound of footsteps came up from behind her, along with the low hiss of someone breathing through a gas mask. She held the tissue to her nose, still not breathing in, but hoping to block some of the excess gas just in case.
Bill crumpled like a dead weight.
She turned around, stared into a pair of dark, goggled eyes and a familiar black-and-red costume, and calmly aimed a shot directly at the bomber's midsection. Still holding her breath, she retrieved the cube as it fell to the ground, and then started walking until a few experimental sniffs betrayed no lingering scent of gas. Then she pulled out her cell phone and called up the speed dial.
She smiled. "Hey, hon. It's me. Got a pick-up for you."
"I knew it, they always try it on celebrations, they think it's such a classic but it's really just unoriginal. Hacks. I'll send a bot by. Be careful, it looks like it might rain today."
"I'll keep him in my purse," she promised, glancing up towards the graying sky. "Love you."
"Love you too. Good luck with the newscast!"
It was still considered a little inappropriate for him to make an appearance at this particular holiday. "Thanks," she replied, exchanging goodbyes and then tucking her phone and the cube away again. Turning, she went to go drag Bill out into the clean air and wake him up, but that seemed like a much smaller inconvenience compared to what used to happen. A small smile quirked up the corners of her mouth.
Roxanne was pretty sure she was done with that whole 'getting kidnapped' thing.