(Please excuse my rusty biology; it's not my area of expertise.)

THE INEVITABLE MULE

chapter one: rightside-up

"Why is this happening to me?" Vesta asked in her hollow, reedy voice. She looked in the mirror, fingering the uneven tufts of auburn hair that had sprouted from her scalp in the last month.

"I don't know," Roxanne said gently as she could.

Megamind put his hand on his daughter's narrow shoulder. She looked up at him with his own spring green eyes, like light through a leaf, begging an answer. She knew Dad knew more than Mom, especially when it came to things like this.

There was a lot they didn't know about their daughter.

"I have some theories," he said softly, and gave a smile that didn't touch his eyes.

Megamind adored his daughter, but once described her genes as held together by whispers and dental floss. That was four years ago when she fell ill. He pored sleeplessly over her genome and spent afternoons shouting on the phone with geneticists from all over the world, trying to understand why at puberty their twelve year old girl began to go blind and fall into uncontrollable shaking fits. Roxanne had never seen him more terrified, save for the evening she told him she was pregnant.

"What?" he breathed.

"I'm pregnant," she repeated.

He blinked. "Are … are you sure?"

She wordlessly handed him the pink plastic stick with two telltale blue lines.

He stared down at it, incredulous. After a moment he looked up.

"I'm holding something you peed on," he said.

"Is that all you have to say?"

He shook his head. "Roxanne, we talked about this … you and I can't … - are you sure it's mine?"

Roxanne gasped.

"No! I don't mean it like that, I -

She put her head in her hands. "I know what you meant, Megs. I'm as surprised as you are. But I guess you were wrong."

In the first few weeks of their relationship, when they were frisky as kittens and playing house at Roxannae's apartment, the subject of children came up. MegaMind admitted he'd looked into the question of reproduction years ago, and with Roxanne specifically. She found herself equally creeped out and flattered that he'd used her DNA for the comparison, from one of her hairs that stuck in the bag Minion had thrown so many times over her head.

He blushed purple. "Well, I … I would only choose to have a child with the finest specimen of human female possible, and that's you."

And she melted, of course, the way only one of his bizarre compliments could make her melt. It took her a long time to get used to the idea that he had been utterly smitten with her for years before the fiasco with Metro Man and Titan. It gave a new context to all those kidnappings, all his previous interactions with her. Of course it all made sense in hindsight, but at the time she viewed him as so solidly alien and asexual and odd. The thought of that MegaMind secretly in love with her was revelatory as it was foreign. All of that translated to titillation in their love relationship. The thought that all this time she was his greatest secret intoxicated her. She couldn't help it.

He grew sullen when the question of children arose. At his order a brainbot projected something onto her exposed brick wall. Strands of rippling DNA, labeled for both himself and her. They twirled on the display as a stream of information trickled down either side.

"See?" he asked.

"Um … no," she said. Sometimes MegaMind forgot that she didn't have his mental capacities.

He sighed. "Our species aren't compatible. Ok, well, that's not entirely true. Conception could happen. Possibly. Maybe. But it's highly unlikely, and even unlikelier that the child would … survive."

And now here they sat, staring at each other over a life-changing strip of plastic.

"I thought this was impossible," Roxanne said.

"I didn't say it was impossible," he replied. "I said it was unlikely."

"How unlikely, again?"

They both knew the answer to that. Unlikely enough that they hadn't taken the proper precautions in the entirety of their eighteen month relationship, based on his estimation that they may as well have been trying to breed a duck and a goose. As it turned out it was more like breeding a horse and a donkey, and Vesta was the inevitable mule.

Though Megs warned Roxanne, and himself, of the possibility of producing inviable offspring, they never discussed terminating the pregnancy. They had known, however silently, that they would go through with it. Megamind longed for the child with a loneliness that broke Roxanne's heart, and one she knew she could never understand. But other than that, carrying his child just felt right.

Everything had felt curiously right since Roxanne realized she loved MegaMind and her life turned upside down. Or rather, rightside up; her life had been upside down before. Once she was with him she couldn't remember what it was like before him. What were those hazy days, going along thinking she knew what her reality was? She could barely remember what the world was like before she saw him with desire. She began to think that perhaps she always had seen him with desire, but was unaware of it. The chemistry was there but she hadn't even so much as written it off. An acknowledgement of those feelings was so far outside the realm of possibility for her that she could not have brought it up to be dismissed.

Ah, but now … something about seeing him transition from villain to hero before her eyes sealed her to him utterly. All those months of obsessing over the workings of his mind, those months of study and colored notecards hung in her living room, all that wonderful, now incredibly strange-seeming time with "Bernard", it all paid off in an unexpected closeness. She understood Megamind better than anyone, and he fell into her open arms with the weight of a lifetime of being misunderstood.

They no longer dated. The night after Titan's defeat he came back with her to her apartment and never quite left until he realized Minion was growing lonesome all alone at Evil Lair. After she moved in with him she began the ongoing struggle to turn the lair into a proper home, but he laws used to it cold and dark and ominous. She annexed the bedroom and gradually worked her way out under his critical eye.

That all changed after she conceived. With the help of seven hundred back issues of Better Homes & Gardens, Megamind and the brainbots transformed the Lair into a homey manor almost overnight, with his lab driven underground into the world's weirdest basement. That instant turnaround let Roxanne know more than anything else that he was serious about the child.

He proposed to her that very night as they lay on the couch in each other's arms, the little strip of plastic sitting innocently on the coffee table before them.

"Of course," she said, sniffling. She wiped a tear from her cheek. She'd been crying but she wasn't sure why. A strange sort of fearful happiness. "You may as well make an honest woman out of me."

"It's not like that. I was going to propose soon anyway. Minion!" he called, and disentangled himself from her. He was always prudish around Minion even though it was clear his servant and friend loved seeing them together.

She heard his heavy mechanical footsteps slamming down the hall. He poked his head in the door. "Yes, sir?" he asked, spinning in his bowl and chipper as always.

"Would you bring me the ring, please?"

Minion gasped. "NOW, sir?"

"Yes, Minion."

Minion gave a high girlish shriek and clapped his hands. Roxanne could not help but smile as he pounded down the hall and back again, having retrieved a maroon velvet box that was dwarfed in his huge robotic hand.

"Thank you," MegaMind said, and knelt on the floor before Roxanne.

"Roxanne - " he began.

Minion burst into loud, wailing tears.

Megamind smiled, bit his lip, and shook his head. "This isn't how I planned it."

"It's ok," she said, and pecked him on the lips. "I already said yes. I'm yours."

He looked up at her. His breath caught in his throat and eyes misted. Furiously blinking back tears, he turned the little maroon box towards her and opened it.

She gasped.

"It's blue," she said.

He slid the multifaceted blue diamond onto her finger, his hand shaking. "The color of your eyes," he whispered.

"The color of your skin," she whispered back.

"Same color," they said.

Minion broke into a fresh wail.

"He's going to have a seizure when we tell him you're pregnant," he said.

Minion looked at Roxanne and gave a gasp of true shock, the one that went on longer than a human could possibly inhale, much less an intelligent fish.

"You - you – she's...!?"

They smiled and nodded.

For a moment Minion looked like he didn't know whether to scream or go blind. He swept both of them up in a big, fishy, furry metal hug. "I love you! I love both of you! And I love your baby! Oh my god, a baby!"

And now here that baby sat, sixteen and purple and nervously fingering her odd, new, ugly tufts of hair - a gift she had always wanted, but as it seemed to be with so many of Vesta's gifts, given in the cruelest way possible.

Roxanne looked at her own face in the mirror behind Vesta's, and her husband's. Their faces were older now, and lined in a way that they hand't been on that night he proposed. She took his hand. She knew he was frightened, though he tried not to show it. This might mean Vesta's symptoms were returning. The struggle to keep Vesta alive had aged him indelibly, as he was the only person on the planet with any hope of curing her.

Roxanne looked again at the reflection of herself and her husband, lined, older, a shock of white in her bangs. She squeezed his hand.

We earned those lines, she thought. Every one.