A/N: No, you're not seeing wrong…this is a re-post because one of my reviewers pointed out a few mistakes I made. Sorry about the confusion. Leaving the final AN as well because it's still relevant. :D
Part Two: Reality
Gru spent most of the day in a haze, overcome by memory and thought. He didn't even notice when his usually rambunctious daughters went to bed without an argument or even the demand of a story. Without even realizing it, he went to bed early. There, he lay awake staring at the ceiling, watching his past play out before him.
Over the next few days, the incident fell to the back of his mind and life returned to normal. The sun came out, and Gru was able to send the girls outside to play. With this newfound peace and quiet, he was able to concentrate on working all the kinks out of his latest plan. He noticed nothing strange at all until Dr. Nefario threw a clipboard at his head one afternoon.
"Ahh, what? Why are you doing this?" Gru demanded, rubbing his head where the clipboard had hit him.
"You stupid, foolish boy. You don't want to be the world's greatest villain!" the old man cried.
"What are you talking about, Nefario?" Gru asked, frowning. Nefario gave Gru his best snarl.
"First you have the little girls, and fine. Whatever. We're working with it. But now you're going to start dating? Keep this up and I quit. I'm done. You're not taking this seriously anymore." He said, leaning back in his electric chair and folding his arms over his chest.
"Again, What are you talking about?" Gru repeated, more confused than ever. "I have no intentions on starting to date anyone!" He made a face at the prospect. "Dating" and "Gru" were not two words that generally went well together. He had given up dating early in his life with no desire to ever return.
"No? No one? You're not meeting anyone for dinner tonight?" Dr. Nefario raised an eyebrow skeptically. Gru shook his head. "Then explain this." The Jumbo-Tron lowered from the ceiling and an e-mail appeared on its screens. Gru stared at the Jumbo-Tron, then at his aged accomplice.
"Is this necessary?" Gru asked flatly. Nefario pointed insistently at the screen.
"Okay, okay, fine. I am reading." Gru said. "Let's see, ahh, Hi. It really has been a long time, you're right about that. I must say I didn't expect the invite, but okay. For old time's sake, I'll do it. I'll be at your place by Thursday, at 6pm. You have the evening. That's it. Change my mind, Gruesome." Gru stopped, repeating the extension of his name silently, his eyes widening. He read it again, then again. It still said the same thing. Only one person had ever used that nickname on him. Heart pounding, Gru sped through the rest of the e-mail. There wasn't much left to read: I'll see you Thursday. I hope this is a good idea. Always, Peace –Elaine (Elle). Gru stared at the Jumbo-Tron, his mouth open.
"Try lying to me again, Gru." Dr. Nefario said triumphantly. "Now, what are you thinking?"
"I didn't invite her out. This is a reply. Where is the original message?" Gru asked frantically.
"It's a little late for that now. There's a car parking on the street. Your date is here." The scientist pointed to a wall of security monitors, a disgruntled look on his wrinkled face.
Outside, Margo, Edith, and Agnes sat on the driveway, coloring with chalks. Margo drew careful designs and shapes, outlining everything neatly in white chalk. Edith drew bombs and comic book explosions. Agnes sat happily in the middle of swirls of colors and scribbles, singing to herself as she colored in the afternoon sun. The three girls barely noticed a somewhat beat up black car park on the curb. A woman got out of the driver's side, pushing her mirrored aviator sunglasses on top of her head. She looked at the numbers on the front of the house, then at the little girls happily coloring on the driveway. The woman frowned and pulled a Blackberry out of the pocket of her blue jeans. She hit a few buttons and squinted down at the screen, then up at the house again.
"Um, excuse me," the woman called in a British accent, walking up the drive. "Hi, hello. Can you tell me where a man named Gru lives? I think I have the wrong address. He's a tall man, rather large nose…" She put her hands out in front of her face to simulate Gru's nose. The three girls looked up at the woman standing in front of them.
"You came!" Agnes squealed, her eyes sparkling.
"He lives here." Margo added, smiling. "I'm Margo, and these are my sisters, Edith and Agnes."
"Does—does he know you're drawing on his driveway?" The woman asked, looking confused and slightly concerned. Her frown deepened. "Wait, what do you mean you came?"
"Elle!" Gru gasped, throwing open the front door. The woman looked up at Gru. Her face brightened.
"Gruesome!" She replied, forgetting the girls and rushing to him. His eyes widened with panic. Elaine noticed and slowed.
"Sorry," she said, her cheeks coloring slightly. "I'm sorry. Um, hello, Gru."
"This is a mistake," Gru blurted. Elaine froze entirely.
"Excuse me?" she demanded. "I make last-minute arrangements to fly all the way from New Zealand, where I was painting exquisite sunsets to see your sorry—" she glanced at the girls watching her intently, "—rear and what do I get? This is a mistake?"
"No, agggh," Gru looked up at the sky in a classic why-me pose. "It's great—amazing to see you. Yes. But I have no idea what you are doing here. I just was seeing your e-mail and I have no idea what you are talking about."
"So, what were you, drunk when you wrote this?" Elaine pulled out her Blackberry again, pulled up the e-mail and tossed the device to Gru, who caught it deftly. He scanned the e-mail briefly and his jaw dropped. He looked at Elaine with a helpless expression on his face. Elaine crossed her arms over her chest and glared at him impatiently. Then his blue eyes settled behind Elaine, upon two little girls who looked as though they knew trouble was coming their way. Agnes, however, looked hopeful as ever, her face shining through the dusty coating of chalk. Gru sighed. He handed the Blackberry back to Amber, pinching the bridge of his nose with the thumb and forefinger of his other hand.
"I think I am understanding." He said quietly. "Margo, Edith, Agnes, come here please." Elaine's eyebrows rose in shock as the three little girls came to stand before Gru.
"Um, hi. You wanted to see us?" Margo asked innotcently, looking as though she'd rather run away. Edith acted on that very impulse, but Gru caught the back of her pink T-shirt.
"Not so fast, Edith." He said, very calmly. "Now, you must tell me the truth. Did you write the e-mail to this lady that brought her all the way here from New Zealand?"
"Margo did it." Edith said quickly. Margo let out a reproachful noise, but her cheeks colored and she hung her head.
"I'm sorry. We just thought—" she began to mumble.
"Did I not tell you not to snoop? I did tell you that, I remember. And you not only snooped but you forged a letter in my name. What were you thinking? You brought poor Elaine halfway across the world." Gru reprimanded sharply. Edith and Margo were both hanging their heads now. His youngest, however, was not daunted.
"Did it work? Did it work?" Agnes bounced up and down. She grabbed Gru's knees, leaving chalky handprints on his black pants. She tugged on him until he bent down so she could whisper in his ear. "Is she going to be our mommy now?" Gru stood quickly, taken aback. He looked up at Elaine, shock written all over his face. She was frowning thoughtfully.
"I think I understand what's going on here," She said. Gru blinked rapidly, remembering the situation.
"Ah, yes. Girls, apologize to Elaine now. You too, Agnes." Gru said, detaching the chalk-covered pre-schooler from his leg. He turned her to face Elaine.
"We're very sorry." Margo said. She nudged Edith.
"Yeah, sorry." Edith muttered reluctantly, pulling her hat down further over her eyes.
"You're so pretty!" Agnes crowed happily. Elaine smiled.
"Agnes!" Margo hissed. Agnes looked at her sister, then at Elaine.
"Oh, I'm sorry." She said, sudden shyness making her look up through her bangs.
"Good. Now go get in the tub. You're filthy." Gru pointed toward the door. "We will be having a talk before bedtime, yes?" His face remained stern until the trio had disappeared into the house. Then he sighed, rubbing his face with both hands. He muttered a string of curses in Russian.
"Colorful." Elaine remarked, smirking.
"I am sorry about all of this." Gru said, ignoring her comment. Elaine laughed.
"I think we should talk after all," she replied. "I'm willing to reconsider dinner." Gru looked at her for a long moment.
"Yes, okay. Let me take care of the girls. Please, come in." Gru led Elaine into the house and, after fighting Kyle off, he showed her to the living room.
"I will get someone to watch them, I will be back." Gru said, before disappearing down the hallway. After ordering a few of the more responsible Minions to keep an eye on the girls (and alerting Dr. Nefario just in case,) Gru went to have a chat with his daughters. He found them thankfully clean, but arguing.
"This was your stupid idea, and now it's never going to work!" Edith was yelling at Margo, who was holding a pillow up over her head as a shield in case her middle sister decided to get violent.
"Girls." Gru walked into the room. "You are going to be telling me a story tonight."
"Umm, okay, what do you want to hear?" Margo asked. "Sleeping Beauty or…umm…" she trailed off at a look from Gru.
"I want to hear what you were doing." Gru said, sitting down on the edge of one of the beds. The girls looked at each other.
"We just wanted to know who she was." Margo began. "We just found the picture and you wouldn't tell us, and you looked sad, so we decided to find out for ourselves. That's all it was at first. But-"
"And she's awesome! She's done all this cool stuff, and she's so pretty and cool!" Edith chimed in, completely interrupting Margo.
"And you love her," Agnes pointed out matter-of-factly, "'cause she's a fairy princess." Gru choked on nothing in particular.
"Wha—how would you even—" his eyes narrowed accusingly. "You weren't asleep at all." Agnes simply smiled at him innocently. Gru sighed, rubbing his head.
"So you called her here so we would what? Fall in love and live happily ever after?" He groaned. "Girls, this is real life, not a fairytale."
"We need a mother," Edith said bluntly, giving Gru a pointed look. Gru took a breath to reply, but Margo interrupted.
"And we want you to be happy," she said, looking away and pushing her glasses up her nose. Gru stopped and looked at the three little girls. Sometimes he had the funny feeling they were far more wise than he was. Out of the mouth of babes, he thought to himself, shaking his head.
"Look, the truth is, yes, okay? Elaine is an amazing woman, and we used to be very… close," Gru admitted grudgingly. The girls perked up excitedly. "But," he continued, pausing for emphasis, "But we disagreed on certain things a very long time ago. There cannot be a future here. And I have not even seen her for so many years. You probably took her away from her own family. I would expect her to be married and maybe even have some kittens of her own."
"Nah." Edith shook her head. "She lives alone."
"Shush, Edith," Margo said. She looked at her adoptive father, her most business-like face in place. "Look, we didn't mean to do anything wrong. We just wanted to help."
"I know, I know," Gru said. "I am going to go ahead and take Elaine out and explain everything to her. Part of me is glad you are still too young to be knowing that you do not mess with matters of the heart. So no more snooping, okay?"
"Okay," the girls chorused. Gru smiled and hugged each of them in turn, kissing them on the forehead.
"I will be back later. Listen to the Minions and Dr. Nefario, okay? " Gru said. The girls nodded. "Good. We will talk more later."
"No more not answering questions," Margo added. Gru sighed once more, then nodded. He walked back into the living room. Elaine was looking through a stack of drawings on the coffee table. A thoughtful look was on her heart-shaped face. Gru watched her silently for a moment. The years had hardly changed her. Her hair was still long, straight, and dark brown. Her eyes were still a reflective grey, none of their shimmer lost. Perhaps she wasn't quite as thin as she once was, and perhaps there was the tiniest of gentle lines around her mouth and eyes, from years of laughter. But Elaine was still the fairy princess she had always been, her long fingers sifting through the drawings with nimble grace.
"Gah! Kyle!" Gru yelped unexpectedly as the mutated dog jumped and grabbed at his elbow. Elaine jumped. Gru tossed the little monster across the room where he growled twice, then curled up in a corner to sulk. Elaine quickly tried to straighten the stack of drawings.
"Sorry, I was just…" Elaine was at a loss for a good excuse. "Some of these are quite good for such young girls."
"Yes, most of them are belonging to Agnes. She is my artist," Gru said fondly.
"Oh, I see. That's the youngest one, right?" Elaine asked. Gru nodded. "You and your…their mother must be very proud."
"Oh, ahh. There is no mother. I mean they must have had one, yes, of course, but I adopted them," Gru said in one awkward rush. "I am not married." Was it his imagination, or did Elaine brighten slightly?
"You adopted kids. Wow. I have to say, I never saw that coming," Elaine admitted. "How did all that happen?"
"It is a long story," Gru admitted. "I would tell you over dinner, if you would still like to go?"
"I would," Elaine said, smiling.
That was more or less how Gru found himself seated at a small yet stylish Italian restaurant in an older corner of town. A bottle of wine and various breads and dips had been ordered, and were being enjoyed as the pair of old friends settled into conversation.
"So," Elaine began, pouring herself a glass of wine. "It's been a long time since we saw each other."
"Indeed," Gru replied awkwardly, tearing apart a piece of bread on his plate.
"You have three darling little girls. From all the mischief they caused, I was entirely convinced they were all three your own blood," Elaine continued, smiling. She took some cheese and bit into it thoughtfully.
"Well, they are mine. Very much so. I did not care for them at first, but much has changed," Gru said. He could not help it; a warm smile spread across his face as he remembered. Elaine smiled back at him.
"I'm impressed. I never expected you to settle down. And correct me if I'm wrong, but I'd say you might even love these little girls," she said. "You have to tell me how all of this happened." Gru laughed somewhat helplessly.
"Ay, where to begin." He muttered. "I only adopted them for part of one of my plans. I needed this device, this shrink ray. And these clever little girls were my only way to get in to steal the device. But over the course of time, yes. I grew attached. And I admit, yes. I do love them. They have changed my life. More or less." Gru shrugged, picking up his own wine glass.
"I see," Elaine looked away, her face falling. Gru leaned forward, frowning.
"Why do you do that? What is wrong?" He asked softly.
"Nothing. I'm glad you found someone—three someones to love," Elaine said. But Gru caught the ice in her words.
"Even after so long, I know when you are lying to me. What is it?" Gru pressed. Elaine looked at him for a long moment.
"I thought—when I saw them—I thought you had changed. I thought you had given up thieving. But you're still the same stupid, selfish—" Elaine's eyes flashed. Gru set his glass down, none too gently, stopping her words.
"Do not call me selfish. I gave up the moon for those girls. I risked the respect of my colleagues, my career, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. No. I am not selfish, Elle," he said coldly.
"I have one question for you. Just one," Elaine looked at him, her jaw set.
"Go on," Gru replied.
"Are you still a thief?" Elaine demanded.
"I am," Gru admitted steadily, his blue eyes meeting hers of grey.
"Then there is really nothing much left to discover here, is there?" Elaine said. "I refuse to associate with someone as despicable as you."
"The same old stalemate, then," Gru said, nodding. His heart sank in his chest. "But you promised me tonight. Don't back out on me now. Forget what I am, and let's just enjoy the evening, as two old friends who have not seen one another in many years." There was a long pause as Elaine considered this idea.
"Deal," She finally said. However, the mood of the night was ruined. Gru and Elaine spoke of old times and old friends. There was much laughter, and some sadness, but a distance remained between them for the rest of the evening. Neither of them showed it, but they were both relieved when Gru pulled up to his house. Silently, both of them got out of Gru's car and went to stand beside Elaine's.
"Mistake or no, this was fun," Elaine admitted. "Tell your girls thank you for me."
"I will do that. They liked you quite a bit," Gru said, smiling. There was silence for a beat.
"Why?" The word seemed to rip from Elaine, frustration and anguish plain in her voice. Gru was startled for a moment, but he sighed, knowing precisely what Elaine meant. This was not the first time such a question had been asked.
"I did everything else, and nothing was good enough. This….this is something that I can do," Gru replied simply. "And I am good at it."
"After all these years, you're still catering to that bitch," Elaine fumed. "You're plenty good without her. You're clever, you're creative…what do you need her approval for? You can do anything you want! I just don't understand."
"How many times have we had this conversation?" Gru asked, sighing. "I do what I do. It is just better this way."
"No, no it's not," Elaine ran both her hands through her hair. "You have your girls' love and m—" she paused. "Isn't that enough?"
"Goodbye, Elle. It was…it was very good to see you again. I have missed you," Gru said gently. Elaine sighed heavily. She leaned forward and gave the infamous supervillain a tight hug.
"Goodbye, Gruesome," She whispered. "Your mother destroyed you, you brilliant thing. Call me when you're not her monster." Then Elaine got into her car and drove away. Gru stood staring after her for quite some time. Her words had thrown him back into the very melancholy he had begun in. They were the very same words she had said to him the last time he had watched her drive away.
Finally, Gru walked into his house, where he was promptly pounced upon by three excited kittens.
"How did it go?" "Is she getting her bags? Will she stay here?" "Are you gonna marry her?" "Is she a good kisser?" "Edith!"
"Girls!" Gru shouted sharply. All three of his daughters stepped away from him quickly. Gru took a deep breath to control his emotions, closing his eyes. When he opened them, his daughters were standing in a row, watching him with wide eyes.
"As I told you before. There are things between Elaine and myself that will never work out. She is going away. Do not bring her back here. Do you understand me?" Gru said solemnly. The girls nodded, not even daring to speak.
"It has been a long night. Bedtime. Go," Gru murmured, sinking down onto the couch.
"Story?" Agnes asked in a tiny voice.
"Not tonight," Gru replied, leaning back and putting a hand over his eyes. He heard his girls creep away and felt a sting of guilt for acting so harshly toward them. But he did not move. Suddenly, he felt a hesitant touch on his shoulder, then two arms wrapped themselves around his neck. Gru looked over to find Margo leaning her head on his shoulder. She looked up, her eyes sad.
"I'm sorry, Dad," she whispered. Gru sighed, putting his arms around his oldest daughter.
"It's all right," He replied. "Everything is all right. Go on, kitten." Margo's arms tightened around him for a moment, then she released him.
"Goodnight," she said softly, then ran off toward her room. Gru watched her with a heavy heart, then looked across the room where Dr. Nefario was watching him intently.
"Are you convinced that this was not my doing yet?" he asked flatly. "Why would I put myself through this, huh?"
"No more dates?" Nefario asked suspiciously. Gru grimaced, shaking his head.
"Never," he said. Nefario gave him a lopsided grin.
"Fair enough. I'm going to bed, too. Have fun nursin' that broken heart of yours," the old man teased, then wheeled off toward the labs. Gru made a face at the doctor's back, then slid down the couch so he sat in a somewhat depressed slump.
"Never, never again," he whispered to himself.
He did not sleep that night.
End Part Two.
A/N: Thanks so much for the reviews so far. Part Three won't be up so quickly…I wrote it and hate the way it's done, so I'm going to have to rethink it a little bit. I'll try to get it finished before school comes back into session or it'll never get up…I'm horrendous about that. :P