It had been on an upswing right from the start, when her next-door neighbor dropped off a plate full of freshly-made sticky buns as a 'thank you' for watering her plants while she was out of town the week before. That alone would have been enough to put her in a good mood-as far as Roxie was concerned wolfing down three warm and goopy rolls for breakfast should be enough to put anyone in a good mood-but it lead to her winning a gift certificate for buying the 500,000th cup of joe at the small coffee house in the park that she only ever stopped at when she chose to bike to work to make up for an especially indulgent breakfast.
When she got to work she found out that Hal had called in sick with the flu and might well be out all week, and, okay, maybe she should feel a little guilty about seeing that as another plus to her day, but she just couldn't. She tried as hard as she could week after week, month after month, to be patient with him about his little crush, but there were times that she just wanted to punch him in the hopes that maybe being that cruel would finally make him lose interest and move on. It wasn't like anything else had worked; usually even the most persistent of men would have gotten the message by the twentieth time that she'd turned them down.
But the thing that really made her month, maybe even her whole year, was when her boss pulled her aside at the end of the day to let her know that one of her stories had been nominated for the year's Howard Solomon Award for broadcast journalism.
It wasn't the nomination itself which thrilled her so much; she already had a small shelf-full of the things gathering dust, the oldest dating back to the year when she'd gotten the world's first interview with Metro Man, and the awards were just a county-wide thing that weren't even considered prestigious within the county and were outright unknown outside of it. What made this one so special was that it was the first time she'd ever been nominated for an award based on a story that had nothing to do with the unending feud between Metro Man and Megamind. Well, aside from the occasional reminder that Metro Man wasn't available to help in the hunt for the serial arsonist she was reporting on because he was out over the Atlantic foiling an especially bizarre plot of Megamind's to change to ocean's salinity level to something Minion would feel comfortable swimming in when they went on a vacation that was canceled by him being thrown into prison instead.
It had been exciting for Roxanne to follow the work of regular police officers and firefighters, the everyday heroes who were constantly outshone by Metro Man's brilliant presence in their midst, but she'd had no real idea whether or not anyone else was following it. Sometimes she got the feeling that if the words "Metro Man" or "Megamind" didn't come out of her mouth within the first sentence of a report the city immediately stopped paying attention.
Honestly, the only person who she knew was a loyal viewer even when she didn't have any new superheroic scoops was Megamind, and that was a little bit disturbing and even more depressing if she ever felt like brooding about it. While waiting around for Metro Man to show he'd always take the time to let her know if he'd been especially impressed by a report she'd done since the last time he'd kidnapped her. Or especially unimpressed, which meant more in a way if she was willing to admit that anything he did meant anything at all to her; most people just didn't want to risk insulting the woman who may or may not be (except that so few people paid attention to the 'not' that she'd stopped even bothering to remind them of it) Metro Man's girlfriend and would just stay awkwardly silent if they had a problem with what she'd done. Being Megamind, and as such not especially thrilled at hearing recaps of the latest way that he'd gotten his butt kicked across the city and back, it was always those ordinary stories untouched by supercrime-fighting that interested him enough to bring them up in a marked contrast from the feedback she got from any other person who ever bothered giving her some.
So getting that nomination was enough to set her beaming until her cheeks got sore, and even walking face-first into a cloud of knock out gas when she left the studio for the night wasn't enough to bring down her mood. She was so happy that when she came to again she decided to spread the good mood around, and greeted Megamind with an ear-splitting shriek.
He started at the sound, but a moment later his own face split into a grin wide enough to match the one that she'd worn before but was now doing her best to twist into a look of horror. It was so ridiculously easy to please him, just a scream and a cower was all that it took to leave him happy all the way back to his jail cell, or if she didn't feel like hurting her throat with a screech just bantering along with him without trying to make him hurry it up or let her go would do it just as well. Sometimes she wondered if she should do it more often; it wasn't as if playing along with him was hard, it could even be fun, and as long as he wasn't projecting her to the entire city she didn't feel ashamed about acting like a quivering little damsel of distress for awhile since she knew that he knew the game for what it was and wouldn't think she was actually like that.
But every time her mind started wandering down that road she'd quickly stomp the idea down and remind herself that she really needed to find time for more of a social life in between her job and the constant kidnappings. Putting a smile on the face of the insane alien who refused to ever leave her alone was never going to be a priority in her life, it didn't matter how easy it was. Now and then on a whim she might do it, but that was all.
And luckily for him he was fully aware of that, and didn't waste time wondering about the change from her usual demeanor before letting out a mad cackle. "Yes, quake with fear! For you know that doom sits before you!"
"You monster!" she said in a quavering voice, her tone pitched a littler higher than usual. "W-what do you plan on doing to me?" For good measure she threw in a quiver to her lip, widened her eyes, and did her best to work up a crocodile tear or two.
"You're asking the wrong quest-on, Miss Ritchi. What you really should be asking is just what do I plan to do to your precious Metro Man."
"Metro Man!" she gasped, like the idea that he might be using her to get at the hero had never even occurred to her. Off to the side she heard Minion quickly stifle a laugh, and even the corner of Megamind's smile briefly twitched like he was about to crack. "What will you do to him, fiend?"
"I've heard that congratulations are in order. Of course, I did already tell you at the time how much I enjoyed your reports on the arsonist, didn't I? So I thought, what better way to celebrate than with a little fire?" He slunk around behind and reached an arm over her shoulder, holding two small vials full of liquid directly in front of her face. When he spoke again his voice was a low, sinister, whisper just behind her ear, his breath stirring her hair, "These chemicals are of my own brilliant diveesing. Separately they are entirely harmless, but together? Together air alone is enough to make them ignite and burn at a temperature a thousand times hotter than dicyanoacetylene!"
Minion had wandered into her eyesight while he was talking, taking the spot Megamind had vacated in front of one of the mechanical consoles he loved so much. "We haven't really measured the temperature to be sure, but it is very hot," he chimed in, but then the look on his face as he quickly turned back around in his fishbowl to face the console told Roxanne that he'd just earned a glare from his master.
But for once, as she was giving him the reactions he wanted for a change, he didn't break character to bicker with Minion about what type of information was appropriate to share with a hostage. Instead he raised the vials high-"Observe!"-and threw them to the ground with enough force to shatter the glass and let the chemicals flow together.
The heat created from the sudden combustion was incredible. They all flinched away from it, and to his credit Megamind didn't even need to take time to think before grabbing the back of the chair she was tied to and yanking it backwards while twisting it sideways so her feet were no longer just inches away from the burning drops that had splattered furthest. In just an instant the flames burned themselves out, but even that short of an amount of time was enough to leave a hole melted through the metal floor of the lab they were in.
"I've never been quite that close to the reaction before," he said, his own voice actually sounding shaky for a moment, but he quickly pulled himself together. "Even Metro Man will be unable to withstand the strength of these flames! With the years of study I have put into learning Metro Man's ways I have pin-pointed the exahct spot where he will land when he crashes through the ceiling with no respect for other people's private residences. ...A spot that I think you will be further away from than originally intended." He grabbed the chair again and yanked it backwards, not just a foot or two this time but all the way to one of the walls. "As I was saying, I have pin-pointed the exahct spot where he will land, and the moment he does a trapdoor will open beneath him and a quart of each chemical will be released into the pit below! It may not seem like much, but you've seen the damage a mere sixteenth of an ounce can do."
"We wanted to use a small enough amount to be sure we could keep it from getting out of control if necessary," Minion clarified.
"You do remember that he can f-" Roxanne started, then cut herself off. No, she was playing along this time. It wasn't the place of the bait to point out the glaringly obvious flaw in a plan that required a man who could fly to fall through a trapdoor. Anyway, she sure wouldn't want Megamind to make a last second change to something even more crazy, like dumping the chemicals on him from above so the fire would start up in the middle of the room again. So instead she cowered a little more and asked another question that was on her mind. "H-how could you have this ready so quickly? The nominees were only announced a few hours ago!"
"Impressed, Miss Ritchi? Or are you terrified that my incredible mind could pull such a plan together so quickly?"
"We've actually had it on the back burner for awhile, but when we heard about-"
"Minion!" Megamind snapped, throwing his hands in the air and whirling around to face him, "You aren't helping!"
Minion drifted down to the bottom of his bowl, his robot body hunching slightly, but he sidled over to a small table Roxie hadn't noticed before and stage-whispered, "And once you're free to go the brainbots and I made a cake to celebrate," he said, lifting a cover off the table then tilting the cake beneath it so she could see from where she was sitting. The word 'Congratulations' was written across it in bright red, yellow, and orange, the colors swirled together to imitate flames. "You can just take it with you when you leave."
Megamind rolled his eyes and stalked over to the door. "I'm going to contact Mr. Goody-Goody, and I'd better not find party hats and streamers when I get back here."
No streamers or party hats appeared, but when the door closed behind him Minion swam in a small circle to make sure the coast was clear in all directions then pulled a noisemaker out of a compartment on his body and hold it in the air above his bowl. Roxie wasn't really sure how a fish, alien or not, could blow air, but once he had it in position he was able to swim up to the top of the bowl and sound it. Then he rolled onto his back and floated slowly back down to the bottom of the bowl, giving her an upside-down smile. "Thank you for acting along, Miss Ritchi. It might not seem like a lot to you, but it means a lot to him."
"He's just lucky that I'm in such a good mood that he couldn't even ruin it by almost burning my feet off."
And, okay, maybe she could stand to spare some kindness for the people who'd probably turn out to be the only ones who'd actually watched the reports they were congratulating her about, however bizarre and dangerous their congratulations might be.