Title: Paternus

Character: Professor Utonium

Rating: G/K

Disclaimer: This is merely an act of love for what Craig McCracken created.

Summary: It's different for the Professor.

Notes: I've been wanting to write something for Father's Day involving the Professor for a while. This isn't quite what I had in mind—but what I had in mind requires more attention and time than I am able to devote at the moment. Also, it would've been longer. And it probably would've fit into the TEF universe. In any case, this is what wound up happening instead. Happy Father's Day :) Un-beta'd.



It's different for the Professor.

He remembers when the crime was worse. Going into town was like entering a war zone. He couldn't leave his car for five minutes before it was broken into or walk across the street without getting mugged. How many times had he gone out for coffee and come back with bruised ribs, ruined clothes, and an empty wallet? At some point he stopped wearing Oxfords because if the shoes were going to get stolen right off his feet, he'd rather the criminal walk away with a pair that cost him twenty dollars instead of two hundred.

And then there came the girls. His girls. After Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup arrived, his car windows stayed unbroken and his wallet stayed in his back pocket. His favorite leather pair of Oxfords made a comeback. The mere act of lacing them up felt a real luxury.

It wasn't just him. The rest of Townsville, too—the shift in morale was near-palpable. People made eye contact, smiled more, stopped in the street to make casual conversation with strangers. Of course there was the occasional criminal event, and it wasn't like the monsters stopped attacking Townsville just because the girls showed up. But the girls' presence alone was enough to keep everybody in high spirits.

Well, everybody except...

It's different for Professor Utonium, even more so now. Townsville doesn't make their breakfast. Townsville doesn't do their laundry. Townsville doesn't come running when Bubbles wakes up crying from a nightmare, or when Buttercup has a tantrum, or when Blossom is sulking because neither of her sisters are taking this saving-the-world thing seriously.

The girls take care of Townsville. The Professor takes care of them.

Every time the hotline rings it sounds like a death knell in Professor Utonium's head, one that's tolling for the girls, his girls, his girls whom he loves so dearly. In private he laughs off the comparison; they have demonstrated time and time again that they are more than capable of handling whatever Mojo and company can dish out, so really, he has no business worrying.

But there's always that doubt. There's always that fear. And there are enough close calls—one in particular, but the one is more than enough—that render his doubt and fear impossible to dispel.

In many ways, Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup have given him what he wanted—the ability to feel safe, to move freely without fear for his life. Yes, they've given him that. It isn't his life or his safety he fears for these days.

Townsville's citizens worry, to an extent. They worry when victory isn't so assured, they even worry for the girls, a little. Many of them, Professor Utonium knows, genuinely care.

But it's different for the Professor. It's different because all he can think of when he sees his little girls on the news is how guilty Buttercup looked when she broke their living room window, how excited Blossom was about going shopping for new school supplies, how much Bubbles laughed when she asked if he could touch his tongue to his nose and he actually tried. Oh, she had asked so sweetly, how could he refuse? What would he do without them? What would he do if they weren't around to beg him for another bedtime story, to demand that he settle their arguments with his fatherly voice of wisdom, to present him with a kitchen utterly decimated by glitter and glue and the handmade Father's Day card in their hands that makes the mess not matter?

He doesn't know what he'd do without them. He doesn't want to find out.

When the hotline rings, the girls are out the door in a flash without so much as a goodbye. Townsville barely bats an eyelash. Nobody feels threatened. The Powerpuff Girls have it covered.

Meanwhile, Professor Utonium clears their dinner plates off the table. He picks up their toys and puts them away—Octi, by Bubbles' pillow. He packs their books and sets their bags by the door for school the next day. Then he turns on the news and sits, his hands clenched together in pseudo-prayer as he watches and waits for his daughters to come home.