"This is Roxanne Ritchi, unharmed and very grateful," she signed off. People immediately pushed toward them, but Metro Man picked her up as easily as a doll and jumped into the sky.
"Need a lift?" he asked, a little too late. His smile was pleasantly vacant. Why not?
"Thanks," she replied. "Again," she added, hoping she sounded decently appreciative, not smarmy, not, um, too inviting.
They floated in silence for a minute, rising higher over the city. She wasn't sure she liked being so high up she couldn't see her shadow. She definitely didn't like being held so loosely. But she resisted the urge to cling to him, telling her arms to stay limp as she focused on the city. It looked beautiful and clean from this distance.
"So," he said slowly, "where to?" Like a cab driver, or a subway, haha, get it, Metro Man? She gave him her street address, and he swooped down. She did cling, then, nails-first. He didn't seem to notice.
He frowned. "But then you won't have a balcony."
"Right," she nodded.
"Then where am I supposed to put you?"
"On the sidewalk?"
"Oh, no," he replied, and she thought of Minion. "A hero can't just leave a lady on the sidewalk, especially in that part of town. And it'll be dark soon!"
It must be nice to have rich parents who could subsidize your costumes and your apartment. She bit back the comment and tried to think like a strictly by-the-book superhero. "What about the roof of the apartment building?" she suggested. This was deemed satisfactory.
He set her on her feet, and she thanked him quietly. He hovered, face full of uncertainty. Without his normal cocksure grin, he could be so childlike. She thought of Peter Pan, and then of Megamind. She took a deep breath, smiled, and said, "I really am sorry about that first interview. I shouldn't have—"
"No, no," he interrupted, hands up, fingers wide. "I," he stammered, running a hand through his hair, "I'm not used to…to someone not liking me. But I've been thinking about it," he said quickly, "and you're right. I mean, I should be doing more. Like, helping the fire department more and stuff. And talking to kids about traffic safety. Would that help? Would you…do you think you could like me, then?"
He was an airhead. A vain, self-absorbed, adorably sincere airhead. With super powers. She rubbed the bridge of her nose. "Probably," she said. "Yes," she said, more firmly. She looked up and added, "But you'd have to be careful not to do more damage than you prevent."
"Sure, yeah, I'll be super careful," he grinned. "And maybe…could you help me with that? You know what's going on in this city better than anyone, I bet. You could be my sidekick!"
"No," she answered flatly. "No sidekicking." But when his face fell, she sighed and agreed to give him tips and advice as things came up. The apartment roof would be a good meeting place. He flew a quick celebratory loop around the building before breaking the lock on the door to the stairs. "Just whistle, and I'll stop by, Roxie," he crowed as he flipped midair. He stopped. "Do you know 'Blue Suede Shoes?'" He whistled tunelessly, twisting his shoulders and shaking his hips.
"Yes," she laughed, "okay, go, quickly, before I change my mind." He darted away.
She stayed on the roof for a long time, resting her elbows on the enclosing wall. She watched the sun dip below the horizon, sending streaks of orange and pink across gleaming towers. Venus appeared, then other stars, though few could be seen against the light of the city.
She thought about many things that night. She thought about stars and lost alien worlds. She thought about two tiny babies speeding toward Earth, and all the possibilities that had created. She thought about boys playing cops and robbers, and wondered how long it took to outgrow that game if there wasn't anything better to do. She thought about what Megamind could do if he were given the chance to be useful. Second chances—real, genuine do-overs—were rare. She'd been given a great one. She wondered if he knew that. Could she return the favor, somehow? Probably not. It isn't the chances we're given, but what we do with them that matters, she reminded herself. She wouldn't waste hers.
The wind picked up, briefly drowning out the sounds of traffic, sirens, and car alarms below. The city spread around her, full of stories, ugly and strange and brassy and beautiful.
She closed her eyes and listened.