I never intended to write a second chapter to this, but then I started thinking. I really need to stop doing that. _ Guess this isn't a one-shot anymore – I thought of posting it as another one-shot, as a sort of follow-up, but we all know the two are connected and I figured, eh, might as well just post it as another chapter. Probably won't be another part after this one, though.
This bit is just supposed to give you an idea of how the childhood animosity between Wayne and Megamind might have begun to end.
…Is Megamind inherently angsty? Or is that just all I'm writing for this fandom? XD
The ceiling gives way with a crash and the beeping that has been growing progressively louder for the past two minute cuts off. Megamind looks up, already scowling.
"Oh for crying out loud," he says, "this place is cold enough without you poking holes in it. Look, you're letting snow in."
Wayne blinks at him, hovering in mid-air, ready to fight and confused. "Sorry?"
Megamind waves a hand at him in an odd shooing motion. "Don't be sorry," he says, and turns back to his microscope, "I'm just saying. You could use the door, you know." He twiddles a dial, switches magnifications and refocuses, mutters something under his breath and makes a few marks in a notebook to the left of the microscope. There's another notebook lying open to his right.
Wayne's eyes narrow, and he comes down to float about a foot above the floor, still ready to dodge to the side or fly up at any moment.
Megamind doesn't seem to take any notice, and he also doesn't seem at all aggressive, which is unusual. Wayne drifts a little nearer, cranes his head to look over his enemy's shoulder just as Megamind jots something else down in the right-hand notebook.
"You keep two sets of notes?" Wayne asks. "Why?"
Megamind lifts his head, pressing his lips together. He does not appreciate being disturbed. "Practice," he says shortly.
"Practice?" Wayne squints at the left-hand notebook. "Is that – what is that, Japanese? What's it called, katanica or something?"
Megamind sighs loudly and puts down his pen, then turns back to look up at the other boy. "Hànzì," he says disparagingly. "It's Chinese. The word you were looking for is katakana, but that's a different set of characters, and yes, that's for Japanese."
Wayne only hears about half of that. "You speak Chinese?"
"You sound surprised."
Wayne just shakes his head. "I guess I shouldn't be," he mutters. "Just never really thought you'd go in for the whole 'language' thing. Thought you were more of a science-math person. I can't believe you speak Chinese."
"Yes, well." Megamind looks suddenly uncomfortable. "I don't speak it, exactly. Not well. I understand the spoken language, and I can read and write, but speaking it is another matter entirely. The tonality of it is…complicated. But I am learning," he adds quickly, suddenly defensive. "And I'm improving. I'm sure I am."
Wayne nods. "Yeah, great, sure," he says, and looks around, blinking and frowning. There's no hum of doomsday machinery, and the usual control panels are dark and quiet. The viewscreens all display what looks like a starry-sky screensaver – Wayne isn't sure if it's a screensaver or not; it looks kind of familiar, and the stars are magnified. "Um. I picked up a distress signal…?"
Megamind blinks once, as if puzzled. Then both eyebrows shoot up. "Oh, right!" he exclaims, and then he explodes into animation, shoving his chair away from his desk with both hands and enough enthusiasm to send himself and the chair squeaking across the concrete floor to the other side of the room, where he catches himself on the corner of a tall set of controls that reaches almost to the Lair's high ceiling. "I have something for you."
Wayne watches in bewildered amazement as Megamind braces both hands on the armrests of his chair and swings his feet up, then stands. He hops from the chair to an open space on the darkened control station to a stepladder, scrambles up, then leaps from the ladder to the narrow crawl space between the top of the controls and the ceiling. Wayne is dimly aware that his mouth has fallen open. Is he part squirrel?
"Sorry, hang on," Megamind calls down. He's disappeared into the shadows near the ceiling, and Wayne can hear him rummaging around. There's a distant squeak, a muffled crash, and the distinctive groi-oi-oi-oiyoiyoing of a hubcap or plate going round. "I had to hide it from Minion, or he would've started asking questions. And it's damned hard to lie to Minion, never mind that I don't like doing it anyway."
He reappears without warning, covered in dust and sneezing, but grinning from ear to ear. "Here we go," he says, sounding faintly pleased with himself. "Catch!" and he chucks something dirty-bronze and bullet-shaped in Wayne's direction.
Wayne's first instinct is to duck – the thing looks sort of like a bomb – but his nemesis isn't acting like he usually does when they fight. He isn't laughing maniacally, or touting some new and improved death-ray or doom machine. He's scaling ladders and studying microscopes and complaining about tonal languages.
Wayne catches the metal bullet just before it hits the ground, then looks up to where Megamind is blinking down at him.
"Is that a thing with you, then?" Megamind wants to know. "Saving things just in the nick of time? Should I prepare for that in the future?"
Wayne looks back down at the bullet. It's not a bullet, he realizes, it's a capsule. "What is this?" he asks aloud.
"You don't – oh, jeez, right, you don't remember." Megamind throws his long body out into space and catches a rope that's coiled up near the ceiling, and swings for a minute before shimmying down to the floor. "That's yours. It's your shuttle. Piece of junk was a pain in the neck to find, but I finally tracked it down in August – I opened it up to look at the wiring, make sure it was still good, but I didn't touch any of the memory chips, I promise. Thought now would be a good time to give it back, what with it being almost Christmas and all. So." He's been speaking more and more slowly as he nears the floor, growing more serious. "Happy birthday, I guess."
He shrugs one shoulder, wheels his chair back over to his microscope. He has gone very still, and he sits down and picks up his pens. He doesn't look at Wayne again. When Wayne says nothing, Megamind adds, "It's all I can do."
Wayne opens his mouth, then has to close it again when he chokes. He stares down at the metal capsule. He isn't sure when it ended up clutched against his chest, but he can't seem to make himself let go. His knuckles are white and the hollow capsule should crumple under his hands, but it doesn't give like most metal does. It's the first thing he's ever held that doesn't break when he clings to it.
He finds his voice. It's higher than usual. "You – found this?"
It's so completely unexpected that it almost knocks him flat, and he hangs motionless in midair, just staring at the back of Megamind's head.
"Yes." Efficient Megamind is back. His voice is flat, and he's writing frantically in both notebooks at once. His shoulders are very tense.
Wayne wants to ask why, wants to dance, wants to shout, wants to – well, he wants to fling both arms around Megamind and cry and thank him, but the thin blue creature is hunched in his chair with his sharp elbows tucked tight against his sides in a very obvious don't-touch-me sort of way. And anyway that would be tremendously awkward.
But Megamind knows, Wayne realizes, he knows what it's like, he knows exactly what it's like, and for the very first time Wayne feels like maybe they're not so different after all. And maybe Megamind isn't quite as bad as Wayne has always thought.
But they're not friends, and there's still a deep and abiding sense of enmity between the two of them that cannot be completely ignored. So Wayne just says, unevenly, "Well, I…Thanks. Thank you."
Megamind bends his head lower, writes faster, says nothing. One hand moves up and down the page while the other moves from left to right, both scribbling in unison.
Wayne should go now, he knows he should, but he also knows that this subject will never come up between the two of them again and he has to ask. "Do you, you know. Remember? Your parents?"
Megamind freezes. There's a snap as one of his pens breaks. Dark ink spreads over the table, pools in his notebook, stains the fingers of one hand black. He lets out a long, slow breath, staring into the black ink. "I remember everything," he says sharply. "I remember everyone screaming, and I remember sirens blaring. I remember looking back as my planet was sucked into the gravitational funnel of a collapsing star, and the sirens cutting off just before I cleared orbit, and the silence that followed. And yes, I remember my parents."
A kind of shocked silence follows his words, broken only by the drip-drip of ink onto the floor.
"…I'm. I'm sorry." Wayne isn't sure what else to say. When Megamind had said he remembered everything, Wayne hadn't really thought about what that would mean. He had just envied his arch-enemy's ability to maybe remember something of home – he hadn't realized that Megamind might in turn envy him his ability to forget.
Megamind nods slowly. "Yes," he says. "Yes, so am I."
Wayne dithers for a long moment. He can't just leave, not without trying to make things a little better. Finally he tries for a joke.
"I bet the fire drills at school freak the hell out of you."
Megamind snorts, then goes into a long, shuddering gasp of laughter that fades away as quickly as it comes. He turns towards Wayne just long enough to say, "Please go away."
Wayne floats quickly backwards, glad for once to be told what to do and hating himself for putting such a shattered expression on Megamind's face.
In another life, we might have been friends, he thinks, and that thought is enough to undo him entirely, and he turns then and flees, still holding his dusty, tarnished shuttle against him with both hands.
Half a week later, some joker at school pulls the fire alarm. It dings instead of blaring as it usually does, and Wayne catches Megamind's eye as they exit the building with the other students – Megamind nods coolly, but half of his mouth lifts into a wry smile before he can stop it.
Then he touches the button concealed at his hip, and half of the science wing collapses, and he bursts out laughing at the shocked look Wayne sends him. The other boy truly had not seen that one coming. Wayne drags him off to jail, but doesn't ask what would have happened if the school hadn't been evacuated. And he doesn't ask who pulled the alarm.
And if the new science wing is a damned sight better than the old one, and nobody can remember where the blueprints for it came from and half the funding for it is donated from an anonymous source (direct wire-transferred from a bank in Switzerland), what of it?
They aren't friends, not by a long shot, but they have reached a sort of understanding.
It's a start.