WARNINGS: Some adult themes and action in this one. Controversial subject material- am not trying to start political debate. ;)
"Love is the difficult realization that something other than oneself is real."
— Iris Murdoch
"Come again, sir?" said Minion, trying not to get angry.
"We have reached a crossroads, Minion!" he announced, laying out another shirt on one of his worktables, smoothing out the creases. It was a long sleeved black silk shirt, of a simple design. "I have reached a crossroads! And for once, I can say 'I' and not really mean 'we'."
"I don't follow you, sir," said Minion. "Also, you've been gone all night. Where have you been?"
Megamind continued laying out several new shirts, pants, shoes, belts and other various accessories out on his workstation. "Deep in thought, wandering the streets, shopping, wandering the streets some more, contemplating, these new … abilities, how to incorporate them into my life, or even if to incorporate. It is tricky, Minion, as it seems now that I must, there is no going back!"
"I'm still not following, sir," said Minion. He had been worried sick. He had come home the previous night to find that Megamind wasn't there, although he had seen him on the news rescuing those hostages. He waited dutifully, watched Jeopardy, then Wheel of Fortune, then NBC's comedy line-up before falling asleep. The following morning, Megamind still hadn't returned; in fact, he didn't return until mid-afternoon, a big, surprised grin on his face and more shopping bags than he could carry under his arms.
"It's called empathy, Minion," Megamind announced, dramatic forefinger held high. "A strange form of intuition seen also in humans! A complex form of psychological inference in which observation, memory, knowledge, and reasoning are combined to yield insights into the thoughts and feelings of others!"
Megamind paused as though he had reached the end of some show-stopping musical number. Minion was stunned. "Sir… you're saying through your telepathic link with Miss Ritchi, you've… developed the ability to empathize?"
"Yes!" he announced, leaving his purchases on the table and placing his hands on Minion's suit's shoulders. "Minion, do you realize what this means?"
Minion's mouth hung open. "It means… no, I don't know what it means."
"Simply put, it means we, well, I cannot even consider going back to villainy," he said, his expression lost. "I tortured over that prospect all night before I realized how liberating it was!"
"Yes!" he said, continuing to lie out the clothes he had bought. "Villainy is a crutch of sorts, because I lacked this ability to empathize with others. I didn't even empathize with you, my best friend, my only friend!"
"No, sir, you didn't."
Megamind turned to him, a little sad. "I truly am sorry, Minion."
Minion continued to stare at him, dumbstruck.
"It wasn't out of malice, and it wasn't as though I didn't care about you. I just could not … empathize with you. I didn't know how!" He laughed, as though he had just solved the world's most perplexing riddle.
Minion's eyes were wide, his pupils tiny.
"Are you alright, Minion?"
Suddenly the robotic gorilla suit lumbered over to Megamind and scooped him up in a giant bear (well, gorilla) hug. Megamind was shocked, but carefully reciprocated the hug.
"I'm so glad!" said Minion.
"You are?" asked Megamind, surprised.
"It could be so hard, waiting on the beck and call of one of the most dense, unrepentant narcissists the world has ever known, you know?" Minion declared a though it was something Megamind would be happy to hear.
"Oh, I love you, boss!"
Megamind's expression softened. He leaned his face into the glass of the fish bowl. "I love you, too, Minion."
Minion put him down, and Megamind used his cape (presently one of the older black models) to wipe off the face smudge he had left on the glass. "I should probably clean your fish bowl, shouldn't I?"
If Minion wasn't already immersed in water, he may have cried tears of joy. "Oh, sir, you have learned to empathize!"
Megamind powered down Minion's suit, and drew out the glass bowl portion of it. "So, sir, what are all the… new clothes for?"
Megamind drew Minion out of the suit, holding him carefully in his hand while he poured some water in another bowl for Minion to rest in while Megamind cleaned out the bowl and replaced the water. "They're for Roxanne," he said, placing Minion in the temporary bowl. "Or rather, they're for me to wear around Roxanne, on certain occasions. Or to wear in public, on certain occasions."
"And what occasions might those be, sir?"
When the phone rang, Megamind almost dropped Minion's bowl mid-wipe. He put it down and all but dove for the phone. "It's her!" he squeaked.
If Minion had had fingers, he would have crossed them.
"Hi there," said Roxanne. Megamind beamed; at least, she didn't seem put off by the flowers. "You surprised me this morning."
"I did? I hope it was a nice surprise."
"It was, actually. It was a very nice surprise." Megamind beamed. "I especially liked your practical little metaphor. I really needed a new carry-on."
Megamind let out a sigh of relief. "Oh, I'm glad to hear that."
"So, listen, I'm driving home right now, should be back in a couple of hours or so, and I was wondering if you weren't busy later-"
"What time do you want me?" he blurted.
"The trick is, not to appear over-eager," she reminded him good-naturedly.
"Oh, what's the point when-" he stopped himself. "I mean, you see right through me, let's be real here. You are so perceptive!" He smiled as though she could hear it over the phone.
"Fair enough, say, seven?"
"Seven it is, then!" he announced, still over-eager. He switched into a forced seductive mode. "I look forward to it."
He hung up the phone. Minion was still peeking over his temporary bowl, wearing a supportive smile. "Sir?"
"As I was saying," he said, finishing up Minion's bowl, "these clothes I may use on occasions that call for a sense… of normalcy," he said.
Roxanne was surprised to see Megamind wearing normal-people clothes when she answered the door. That combined with his child-like, hopeful expression was surreal when she compared it to all the times he had cackled over her wearing his rock opera stage wear.
"What's the occasion?" she asked.
Megamind shrugged, handing her the bottle of wine he'd bought. "Being normal," he said.
Roxanne chuckled. "Is this a permanent thing?"
Megamind blinked. "No."
"I thought it might be a nice, refreshing… 'sometimes' thing. Just as the Monster of Cookies decided to refer to his namesake 'cookie' food as a 'sometimes' snack." He came inside, and kissed her on the hand.
"That was a good call," said Roxanne. "I'm glad you came through the door; I was a little worried you might have come through the patio with a laser light show or something."
"Ahem, of course not," he said. In truth, he had tried to program a fleet of brain bots to bring him in on a heart shaped platform made of brain bots, but some of the red lights had been malfunctioning.
"Looks like you had an adventure yesterday without me," she said, sitting down on the couch.
"I did," he replied, sitting next to her. "People are intriguing when you're saving them from diabolical certain death rather than being the cause of it."
Roxanne laughed, though it was an empty laugh. She fingered the lapels of her shirt. Megamind awkwardly placed his hand on hers, a hopeful expression in his big, green eyes. "Welp," she said. "Here we are!"
"Yes, we are," he said. She was nervous. Very nervous. He was beginning to realize that in so many years of terrorizing her she had never once been so nervous around him. He wanted to know why.
He carefully leaned in towards her, planting a kiss on her cheek. She closed her eyes; it was as though she was trying to force herself to relax but her body was hearing none of it. He cupped her jaw in his hand, kissing her other cheek.
She opened her eyes, looking at him, searching for something, though she wasn't sure what. He closed his eyes, placing his head next to hers.
At first it felt simple, innocent. He could feel her anxiety as easily as he could feel himself, and she could feel his affection towards her, which had a calming effect on her. It was alien to her still; she was hardly able to discern which feelings were his and which were hers. To him the distinction was clearer, more natural, and very comforting.
Now he has been sucked out of reality, into someplace dark, a dark mattress on a floor somewhere. He feels lost, but unafraid, like he is learning to speak a new language, but he is in someone else's body. Me. Her. I'm her! He is in Roxanne's body, or rather the memory of it. She is younger, much younger, and there is a man inside of her, thrusting in and out, not looking at her face.
The man climaxes, and then he rolls off of her. The sense of hollowness she feels is unimaginable. Megamind has never in his life felt anything similar to what she is feeling now; used, unloved. She is in love with this man. His name is Abhay; born in Mumbai, half Japanese, half Indian. She finds him beautiful, exotic. She has been in relationships before, but has never been in love. Not like this. But he does not love her; he cannot love anyone he knows he will not marry, and he is in America to study, not to find a wife. He has told her that countless times, but he still draws her in, toys with her, seduces her. He enjoys seducing her.
She is angry. She is very angry with him. Abhay doesn't understand why she is angry. She is throwing her clothes on. Pulling her jeans over her skinny frame. He doesn't know. He can't know, she won't tell him. She won't give him that power over her.
She came over here to tell him, but she won't tell him. She'll deal with this herself. Graduation is soon. Tell him what? Megamind wants to know. Graduation is soon, her career will begin then in earnest. He'll move back to India, and she can finally move on.
He is angry with her; he is cajoling her to stay. She needs to move on; this is unhealthy. She knows she needs to move on. He has put his pants on now; he wants to know what's wrong. He wants to know why she is so angry, why she is crying.
Megamind wants to know, too.
Why is she crying? Abhay is angry now, too. He feels impotent. He wants her to stop crying.
She is angry. Lost. She is pregnant.
Megamind took in a sharp breath as he pulled away, his eyes wide with shock. He was back in Roxanne's apartment, and Roxanne was starring at him, mortified. She looked as though she was about to cry. After a moment of trying to get a word out, she finally managed, "How did you do that?"
"I don't know!"
"Oh my God," she said, standing up, grasping at her hair. Yes, she was crying now. He never thought, even back in his evilest of evilness, that he would ever see her cry. "Why would you do that? This is… not okay!"
"I didn't do it on purpose!" he cried, standing up. He approached her, but she backed away. "I had no idea about any of that! Please, Roxanne, please trust me! I had no idea that would happen!"
"And why that?" she demanded. "Of all the most god-awful memories for your alien brain powers to drag up, why that?"
Megamind shook his head vehemently, holding his hands up. "I really don't know! How would I even know to look for that memory?"
"That was so long ago!" she whimpered, beginning to collapse to the floor. Megamind no longer resisted the urge to hold her. He reached out for her, repeatedly stopping himself awkwardly, fumbling at where the proper place to grab her shoulders might be "No," she said, pushing him away, but she wasn't putting any effort into it. He pulled her close, and she finally gave up, after a few moments wrapping an arm around his slim torso, her breath steadying.
"Listen," he said, "I'm very sorry, but I don't understand it any more than you do."
Roxanne released a little sob she'd been holding back. "Is that what it's going to be?" she asked. "Is this telepathic thing just going to be a clip show of all our most embarrassing painful moments?"
"I think, perhaps," said Megamind.
Roxanne pulled away from him. She hadn't been expecting him to say that. "I hope you don't take this personal, but in that case I think I'll just exit at this stop. I don't want to be a regular commuter on the pain train."
"No, I think…" he chuckled. "I think our link summoned that memory because I needed it. We needed it."
Roxanne's expression only grew more horrified. "What could you possibly get from seeing something like that?"
"I understand the things in your life that helped shape who you are," he said, his expression betraying an epiphany going on in that big head of his. "That must be it!" he said. "That must be the function of the telepathic link!" He picked up one of her hands, kissing it gingerly. "That must be why it only works on you."
"Wait, you've tested it on others?"
"Of course I have! I'm a scientist first." He smirked. Roxanne finally broke and smiled with him.
"This very aspect of it was what I was afraid of," she said after a few moments. "You getting into these things I never told anyone."
"I admit, it would be nice to have someone, a mentor figure of some sort help us and guide us. But on the other hand, isn't this exciting?"
"Exciting…" she breathed.
"Yes, you and I on this journey of discovery, together!" he said. Roxanne didn't look thrilled. "Just think, Roxanne! What happened to you has never happened to another human on this planet!"
"I don't think they'd envy me," she said, forcing a laugh. "This isn't the cool kind of telepathy where it's reading thoughts and controlling bodies; it's the scary kind where you can't control what information is shared and the gatekeeper is apparently your subconscious. And that…" she rubbed her temple. "I never wanted you to know about that. I never wanted anyone to know about it."
Megamind recalled the intense emotions surround the memory. "What happened, Roxanne?" he asked delicately.
"Oh, what do you think happened?" she said, shrugging it off. Megamind deflated, understanding dawning in his eyes. She smirked, shaking her head. "Even if he hadn't wanted me to go through with it as much as he did, and he did, oh, he did. I probably would have done it anyway. I had a career to start and a babydaddy who would have resented me and the child for the rest of his life." She shrugged. "So that's life."
Megamind didn't know what to say. "You didn't want to do it," he said, following some distant feeling connected to that memory.
"Who wants to go through with that? That is not a fun thing to go through, especially alone like I was. Megamind…" she sighed. "You are, in many ways, hopelessly naïve and innocent. You always have been."
"I'm beginning to see that."
"And the world is so much more complicated than… death rays and… alligator pits." She buried her face in her knees. "I don't know what it is I'm trying to say."
Again, he held her close to him. "Roxanne, I understand that it's painful, but why be embarrassed? You remember whom you're dealing with, right? Who am I to judge or make you feel bad? I mean, I'm an ex-supervillain! Just wait until we get into my bad memories."
"I look forward to it," she said flatly.
"I agree with your sarcasm," he said. "You probably won't speak to me for a few days after some of them."
"And that doesn't bother you?"
"Not at all," he said. His confidence finally started to calm her. "I think it's exciting!"
She looked at him, waiting; he used the sleeve of his new shirt to wipe her tears, and then leaned in to kiss her. She was actually glad of it; even if this idea did frighten her, he didn't. He began kissing her deeper, far deeper than he ever had. At first he wasn't very good at it, as anyone might be who had no idea what they were doing, but he quickly intuited what he was doing wrong; he used his tongue more softly, his lips more precisely, as though he was following her instructions. Okay, maybe this aspect of the telepathy isn't so bad.
She didn't fight when he lowered her down on the floor, and the two continued kissing there on her rug. His fingers were running over her skin, curious and careful, as though she was some new scientific curiosity. "Please let me in," he said. Or did he think it? He must have said it; she felt his breath on her neck.
I need time, she thought. I just need time.
His kissing became more aggressive, his curious fingers bordering on audacious. Please let me inside you.
He stopped kissing her, his eyes big and surprised. Roxanne opened her eyes, not sure what to say.
"I understand," he said, sitting up.
"What is it?" He helped her to sit up as well.
"You said you need time," he said. She started to say something, but stopped herself, startled. "I… understand. I understand completely." He gave her a small, shy smile.
At first she was startled that he had stopped so suddenly. For a moment she had been convinced that she was about to find out whether or not they actually were anatomically compatible. But then her shock broke into a big smile, and she wrapped her arms around his neck, even kissing him on the cheek a few times.
Megamind started to ask why it made her so happy; she had asked for more time, hadn't she? It wasn't until a few hours later, when she was curled up in the crook of his arm, fully clothed and fast asleep in her weirdly cushiony bed, that he realized how rare it was for people in relationships to put the needs of their other before their own. If this was his first test, he'd actually passed it despite being wholly unprepared.
Roxanne sighed in her sleep. Megamind was beaming, oversaturated with dumb happiness. Her nervousness had worn off a while ago. He knew very little about love, but as far as he could tell, making sure her needs were met before his, and not being bitter about it, was the first and most important criteria. Love was a tricky field to navigate, but he felt he was getting the hang of it.
And that was exciting.