Disclaimer: Not mine, no infringement meant. Fanfiction for entertainment only; no profit made.
10. Upon Further Investigation
'For every answer I find, I turn up ten new questions,' thought Roxanne as she drove to work. 'For instance: why did Dr. Pearson give such bad advice to Warden Smith? Who paid off Warden Jamison? Why did anyone with that kind of money even care what happened to a small, blue, alien baby anyway?'
She was so immersed in her own thoughts that she automatically took her normal route, which unfortunately passed right through the center of town and the scene of Tighten's worst devastation. Traffic slowed to a crawl before she realized where she was, and by then she was stuck. Sighing, she rolled her eyes and called her job to let them know why she was going to be late, then settled in for the duration. She involuntarily shuddered as she inched past the downed remnants of Metro Tower, trying to forget that she had been attached to that wreckage with a street sign. The jagged chunks of concrete that once made up the walls of Metro City's tallest building now rose above the traffic like the teeth of a giant monster, ready to crash down on unsuspecting commuters. Hal… Tighten… whoever he was…had tried to kill her. He would have succeeded, too, if Megamind had been half the villain he pretended to be.
She was jolted out of her ruminations by the skyscraper fragment next to her car suddenly rising unsupported into the air. Eyes wide, she suppressed a gasp as she thrust her head out the window and stared up at the flying rubble. It was moving by itself! Why couldn't it have done that when her life was in danger?
Dismissing the thought as ridiculous, Roxanne reached into her glove box and retrieved her well-worn binoculars. A closer examination of the phenomenon revealed at least thirty brainbots lifting the concrete in an effort to clear the road. The reporter chuckled to herself as she replaced the binoculars, then inched her car forward a few feet. Megamind was really taking this hero stuff seriously.
When she finally arrived at the station the reporter hurried to her desk, intent on finding out as much as she could about Dr. Pearson. What exactly made him qualified to psychoanalyze a teenaged super-villain wanna-be? 'Hmmm, let's see,' she thought, logging on to her computer. 'Let's start with his credentials.' A quick search revealed that it took him two tries to get accepted into medical school, and he graduated in the bottom half of his class.
'Not a very auspicious beginning,' she thought, frowning. 'Maybe he made a name for himself with his post-graduate research.' A more thorough search of the psychiatric literature ensued. However, there were no significant publications to his credit; in fact, she only found two studies with his name on them, and he wasn't listed as the primary author of either one. The only 'references' the good doctor actually had were grocery-counter checkout-line pulps, describing his alleged psychoanalysis of Metrocity's rich and famous or, more frequently, recounting his own misdeeds.
There was an entire collection of Enquirer headlines. "Mayor's Wife Crazy?", followed by a photo of an older woman shielding her face from the photographer's flash as she left Dr. Pearson's office. "Actor Getting Advice for Role?" beneath a shot of a local daytime soap star in deep discussion with the physician over a lunch counter. "Psychiatrist to the Stars Has Gambling Problem?" with a picture of a despondent Dr. Pearson at the racetrack. "How Safe Are Your Investments?" over a photo of a local entrepreneur with the psychiatrist's door visible over his right shoulder. "Famous Psychiatrist Found in Lovenest", describing the penthouse suite where he reportedly kept his diamond-clad mistress. Interestingly enough, the last article was dated only a few months after Pearson submitted his report to Warden Smith.
Sighing, the reporter slumped back in her chair, tapping her pencil on the desk. "Well, while it's possible that his recommendations concerning Megamind were the result of sheer incompetence, it appears that his morals were questionable and his lifestyle required significant income, so outright bribery is certainly a possibility. He'd be a prime candidate for my rich, theoretical manipulator to entice into creating an alien super-villain. But why? And, more importantly, who? And how did they get him the job of psychoanalyzing Megamind? He'd done no work with criminals before."
Something about the newspaper clippings tickled her memory. "Wait a minute…" Roxanne muttered, leaning forward once more. She slowly flipped back until she located the headline that bothered her. "I know that face." She quickly scanned the article about the entrepreneur, then her eyes widened at the name. "Lord Scott?"
A dozen unpleasant theories instantly sprang to mind, which Ms. Ritchie savagely tried to suppress. 'But it makes sense!' insisted her subconscious. 'Lord Scott easily had enough money to buy off a dozen prison wardens, not to mention a philandering, gambling waste of a psychiatrist. But why go to the trouble of ruining the life of a blue alien baby?'
Unfortunately, her subconscious also had a ready answer. 'His child was an alien, too, even though he didn't look like one. If word of baby Megamind's existence had gotten out, there could have been an anti-alien backlash. That would be a good reason to keep him contained and under wraps as an infant, and what better place than a penitentiary, with its limited access?'
"But why persist once they were older?," she pondered aloud. "Why involve a psychiatrist to help make him a hardened criminal? Even if the city had gone 'anti-alien' once it knew about Syx, Metro Boy was already a beloved city icon, and would have been untouchable."
'Metro Boy only fought petty criminals...and Syx,' replied her alter ego. 'But an adult superhero needs a super-villain to battle, otherwise he's no better than a vigilante and would fade into nothingness. Megamind was a natural for the role; he had the abilities, and was easily steered into evil. He also had the advantage of already living in a prison, to boot.'
Now to check out her theory. She picked up the phone and dialed the prison. "May I speak to Warden Smith, please? It's Roxanne Ritchi.. Tell him that I have a quick question I'd like to ask."
Within moments the pleasant older man's voice was on the line. "Well, Miss Ritchi, how can I help you?"
"Something I forgot to ask yesterday, if you don't mind. Who precisely recommended Dr. Pearson's services?"
Warden Smith chuckled. "Why, Mayor Sands, of course. All decisions like that were handed down by the city government."
"Thank you so much. That was all I wanted to know." Roxanne carefully hid her anger beneath a layer of civility. After all, Warden Smith was as much a victim of her mysterious 'wealthy manipulator' as Megamind was; it wasn't his fault that he'd been led astray by his superiors. Dr. Pearson's name would have no doubt been familiar, so why would he doubt the Mayor? A Mayor who likely owed Lord Scott a favor or two for campaign contributions.
"You're welcome." The Warden sounded puzzled, but didn't press the issue as he hung up.
Roxanne's mouth set in a grim line as she stared unseeingly at the decades-old photo on her desk. Since both Lord and Lady Scott were dead, it seemed she owed Metro Man another visit.
Megamind drifted towards wakefulness, feeling rested for the first time in days. His aches and pains were noticeably improved over even the night before, and his breath no longer seemed to catch in his chest. Blinking his eyes open, he was pleased to find that they both functioned normally, with a full field of vision. He stared up at the ceiling for a quiet moment before his ears were assaulted by Minion's pleased exclamation.
"Sir! You're awake! How are you feeling this morning?"
Megamind struggled to sit, only to find Minion's supportive hand behind his back. Within moments he was upright and propped on more pillows than he could count. "There, sir. How's that? More comfortable? Can I get you anything?"
"I'm fine, Minion, fine." Megamind waved his hand in reassurance. "Quit fussing."
Minion's robotic fingers fluttered in agitation. "Sorry, sir, but I've been so worried."
The alien's lips twitched upwards in appreciation as his eyes warmed. It was nice to know someone cared, even if he was genetically programmed to do so. "Yes, well…" he trailed off uncomfortably, then changed the subject. "How are my plans progressing?"
Minion switched gears smoothly, becoming all business. "Well, sir, the brainbots are actively clearing the rubble, starting with the major downtown thoroughfares. The projection is for completion in 3 days, after which the reconstruction will commence. The mayor's staff is trying to round up blueprints for the damaged buildings, and will get them to me as soon as possible. As they come in, I'll get the bots working on reproducing the structures as close to original specs as possible."
Megamind nodded sagely, eyes narrowing in consideration. "Actually, we ought to try and improve the buildings' structural integrity, as long as there are no external visual changes."
"Sir?" Minion was understandably confused.
"I'm just considering my future responsibilities. If I'm going to protect this city, I'd like to make it a little more difficult to damage."
"That makes sense," the fish replied. "I'll see what I can do."
Megamind's further instructions were interrupted by another voice. "Well, the nurses told me you were awake." Dr. Philber sounded inordinately pleased. "How are we feeling today?"
"Much better, thank you." Megamind's tone was habitually deferential, as the man had been his physician for as long as he could remember.
"Well, let's listen, shall we?" He turned towards Minion as he pulled a stethoscope out of a pocket of his white coat. "If you'll excuse us for a few minutes?"
The fish nodded and quickly began backing towards the exit. "Certainly. I have…some things to take care of now…" he jerked a thumb towards the door. "I'll be back later, right, sir?"
The ex-super-villain nodded in affirmation. "Yes, Minion. I'll see you when you return."
The physician slipped the earpieces in place then leaned forward, placing the bell of the stethoscope on his patient's chest. "All right, deep breath…"
Megamind obliged, stopping only as the tube in his chest reminded him of its presence, as well as the presence of his fractured ribs. At the doctor's request, he repeated it three more times, then watched as Philber stood with a smile on his face.
"Well, your lungs sound clear. Your chest x-ray from this morning is good, your labs are fine, and there's no trace of an air leak." He tilted his head as he continued, "Time to get rid of that chest tube. I'll need your help, though."
"What do I need to do?" asked the blue man anxiously.
"Well, I need you to take a deep breath in, then hold it until I tell you."
"Why is that necessary?," Megamind asked dubiously.
"Because your lung needs to be completely inflated when I remove the tube, to keep air from the room from being sucked in through the hole in your skin. That's also why I have to do it quickly; otherwise air could also leak in through the holes that are spaced up and down the tube. The bandage I apply is occlusive, and will stay in place until the skin defect seals up, usually 24 hours or so."
"Oh." There was not a lot the alien could add, so he slowly nodded.
"Let's practice, shall we? Take a deep breath in…deeper…now hold it." The physician paused for six seconds, then, "OK, breathe."
Megamind followed the instructions, then commented, "That seems simple enough."
"It is. Let me take the old bandage down, then snip that stitch."
Megamind felt the tape pull as it came loose from his skin, then nothing as he heard the scissors do their job. A slightly greasy dressing was applied with gentle but firm pressure over the site where the tube entered his chest. "You ready?"
He nodded again.
"OK, deep breath in…deeper…hold it…" Megamind felt a sudden stinging snap as the tube was whipped sharply out of position, followed by tape being applied firmly over the dressing.
"Good! You can breathe now." He let his breath out in a whoosh, then panted shallowly for a few minutes as the stinging subsided. "There you go; that wasn't so bad, was it?"
Megamind glared at the physician in disbelief, then dropped his eyes. "I guess not," he muttered. In reality, it did feel better, now that the initial sting from the pulling had subsided. He took an experimental breath, and was pleased that it was much more pleasant without the plastic tube in place.l
"You're improving by leaps and bounds every day; your bones will be knitted in no time. I'd like to go ahead and start you eating again, although it will have to be liquids and soft foods until that jaw heals. How does that sound?"
The patient wasn't really very hungry, so smiled uncertainly. "I guess so," he hazarded.
"Good. I'll send an orderly back with a tray of jello and juice. Take it easy at first; we need to see what you'll tolerate."
The doctor checked the bedside vital signs record one last time before smiling jauntily and leaving the room. Megamind settled back to wait, but found his eyelids too heavy to fight, so he let them close and fell asleep once more.
'I'm seeing more of his secret hideout now that Metro Man's retired than I ever did when he was protecting the city,' thought Roxanne as the small red schoolhouse came into view. She pulled her new news van to a halt, staring at the building before going inside. "I wish I could interview you," she muttered to the building. "At least you don't have a hidden agenda."
She quickly navigated the halls to the secret hideout. The hidden door opened more quickly this time, revealing a more-composed Music Man. He had actually showered and shaved since the last time she'd seen him, and traded his white bathrobe for a pair of faded blue jeans and a gray hoodie – definitely an improvement. His face lit in a welcoming smile as he recognized his favorite reporter. "Roxanne! I wasn't expecting you back so soon. Come in, come in!" He gestured grandly to the interior of his home as he stood aside to let her pass.
She smiled tightly, then took a seat on the couch. "Can I offer you anything?" Music Man offered, playing the host.
"No thank you," the reporter replied, then got straight to business. "I need to tell you some things, then get your opinion about a theory of mine."
Metro man's face became a blank. "I'll do my best."
"Have you ever heard of a man named Dr. Pearson?", she asked earnestly. "He was a psychiatrist."
Metro Man tapped a finger to his chin and stared at the ceiling in thought. His brow creased and his eyes narrowed as he replied, "The name does sound somewhat familiar... I never saw him, though."
"You saw a psychiatrist?" Roxanne reacted in surprise.
Metro Man chuckled self-consciously. "Yeah, for a few months when I was 16; teenage angst and all that. You know, typical stuff. Mom sure kept it hush-hush though. Clearly paranoid about my reputation."
He stared off into the distance at a blank wall as he rummaged through his memory. "She was always so worried about how things would look to the press." He glanced over his guitars and sighed, suddenly becoming unhappy. "I sometimes think that she's the only reason I went into the superhero business. Sort of a 'stage mom' I guess. It was almost as if she was living her life through me."
Roxanne leaned back, confused. "I figured your dad would have been your major influence; after all, he was quite a powerful man in his own right."
Metro man snorted depreciatingly. "Ha. The only thing he was ever interested in was his business and the local news. Most days he didn't even know I existed, much less knew my name. At least, not until I started showing up on headlines. I honestly think he was surprised to discover that Metro boy was his own son!"
Roxanne's mind was whirling. 'If Lord Scott didn't know who Metro boy was, why would he try to set up a super villain nemesis for him? And why was he seeing Dr. Pearson if not in regards to Syx?'
She decided to put that last question to Metro Man. "Look, while I was doing a background check on Dr. Pearson, I came across a photograph of your father leaving his office. Any idea why that would be?"
"There's something… right on the edge of my memory…" He trailed off uncertainly, then shook his head. "I'm not placing it right now. When I remember I'll give you a call."
"Thanks, I appreciate it." Roxanne stood to go.
"Wait, you haven't told me your theory." Metro Man stood as well.
"I think it still needs a little tweaking," she replied with a smile. "I'll get back to you."
"Hey, you want to hear my latest song?", Metro man asked, brightening.
Roxanne cringed inwardly at the thought of another off key rendition. Outwardly, however, she assumed a encouraging smile. "Another time perhaps. I need to go check some things out."
She concentrated on keeping her steps slow and steady, rather than fleeing for her car.