So we finally reach the end of this story.
I want to thank all of you who came with me on this little journey. It has taken me the better portion of ten months from conceiving this idea to actually writing, editing, and publishing it. To say it has been a labor of love would be an understatement. Thank you to everyone who ever read it and a special thanks to anyone who ever reviewed or commented on it. And to everyone who will ever read it in the future.
To my consultants much thanks again for putting up with my questions, comments, and concerns. And in particular Dal Niente for dealing with my mild freakouts and total meltdowns.
And to my beta Sharelle, there aren't words to describe how much your support has meant to me. If writing this story was like giving birth, you its midwife. I have never written a multi-chapter ANYTHING before and you've helped me bring out the best here. Thank you for your time, your patience, your skill, and for recommending the crab ravioli.
In the time it took me to write this I came across this quote : "It is not flesh and blood, but the heart, which makes us fathers and sons." - Johann Schiller. Truer words were never spoken.
Title : Fathers and Sons, Epilogue
Author : Dani Kin
Summary : Being a parent is never easy and family relationships never run smooth. But things are certainly looking up by the time the warden finds himself meeting a certain nosey reporter for dinner.
Beta : Sharelle.
The warden easily spotted Roxanne Ritchie standing near the bar as soon as he entered the restaurant. She was wearing a tasteful blue dress with a thick belt of black leather and he chuckled to himself. The boy would like that outfit. A lot.
Speaking of, he didn't see Megamind anywhere and the boy was usually quite hard to miss. The warden made his way over to the renowned reporter. She smiled when he caught her eye.
"Lovely to see you again, Miss Ritichie," the warden said, greeting her with a warm smile of his own.
"You too, Warden. I just heard from Megamind and he's been called into the field. So I'm afraid we may be on our own tonight," she explained with a regretful little sigh.
She quickly read the worry that flickered across the warden's face, and added, "Nothing too intense. There is a fire down at pier 9 and the brainbots are trying out their new protocols to contain the damage. It doesn't sound like anything particularly dangerous and he swears he will try to join us later if he can."
The warden visibly sighed in relief to hear the boy probably wasn't in danger. Well, not any more danger than he was usually in. The worrying was the one thing that hadn't changed with Megamind's move from villain to hero. He supposed it would be too much to ask the boy to turn over another new leaf and find a danger-free calling in accountancy or something.
"That's too bad. Interested in a drink before we sit down?" the warden asked gesturing towards the bar. She nodded. He ordered a glass of scotch and insisted on paying for her white wine before they were seated.
"You know, he speaks so highly of you," Roxanne said with such openness that the warden almost blushed as he took his seat.
"I didn't know. But thank you. It's... um, it's been a good six weeks," the warden replied. He was still struggling to find a socially appropriate way to acknowledge all that had happened between himself and the boy.
The calls had been so tense at first, and the warden was still amazed that he could call him on a whim. And even more remarkable, that they could have conversations at all without masks and double-speak. There had been a few fights and even more awkward moments for sure, but the warden reveled in moving forward after years of giving up. He was pretty sure he'd talked to the boy more in the last few weeks then in the last decade.
And his jaw had nearly hit the floor when Megamind called him out of the blue on Tuesday to nervously ask the warden to meet him and Roxanne for dinner. Though what he had actually said was "Do you want to go to ah, um, restaurant and meet my girlfriend - I mean I know you know her, everyone knows her, but you should come and uhh, talk to her about things fathers talk to their sons' girlfriends about – Yes, Minion, I know! But meeting parents is an important step in social dating rituals! – ….Um, are you still there?" Even now the warden had to chuckle at the memory.
"I cannot thank you enough for getting him that lawyer," he said to Roxanne. "And for encouraging him to talk to me."
The warden paused for a moment before saying seriously, "I owe you. More then you can know."
Roxanne held his gaze for a moment then nodded.
"Sometimes he just needs a little push and a touch of confidence," she said as she smiled demurely, somehow telling the warden just how much she felt for the boy without actually saying the words.
"He's lucky to have you to help him with all this," the warden said as he reached for the menu in front of him.
"Well, I've come a long way from the fresh-faced cub reporter you once frightened out of your office," she said with a knowing look, before she took a sip of her wine.
"You never told him about that did you?" he asked, folding his hands over the menu. Best to cut right to the chase.
"Did you know he was going to come to my office in disguise?"
"I didn't know," she sighed, setting down her wine glass. "But I thought it was... likely. He hates to admit it, but he can be somewhat predictable."
"And you didn't warn him that I had a history of chasing people out of my office with a stick if they came around asking those kind of nosy questions? Questions about him?" the warden pressed, trying to understand.
Roxanne Ritchie gave him that knowing smile once again. "In my profession, Mr. Woodridge, you learn that there are things that people need to be told. And then there are things they need to figure out on their own."
Damn, the warden thought. She really was smart. No wonder the boy adored her.
"Please, call me James," the warden responded with a warm smile. "I have to say, I was surprised when he called about this. Everything with him - being a hero – it's taking some getting used to. I try not to take up too much of his time. I know he's got a lot on his plate right now."
"Are you kidding? He pretty much marvels at his phone every time you call. I think he would call you more, but he's always so worried about bothering you," Roxanne shook her head and smiled as she scanned her menu.
"Really?" the warden asked, not bothering to hide how pleased he was by that revelation.
"Can I ask, have you ever thought about getting a cell phone?"
"Uh... Can't say I've ever really needed one before," the warden responded with a little shrug. "And I'm a pretty old dog to learn new tricks."
"Well, he would probably call more if you got one. He's mentioned it to me several times but for some reason he's hesitant to bring it up with you."
The warden had a pretty good idea of why.
"I think he just wants to text you," Roxanne continued with a good natured smile that put the warden at ease. "I'm afraid I've turned him into a bit of a text message addict. So you should probably look at models that are conducive to scores of random texts at all hours from an antsy supergenius."
"Any recommendations?" The warden asked with an exaggerated sigh of weary bemusement, fully prepared to forsake sleeping well if it meant he would hear from his son more often.
"Oh, he's the one you should ask about that," she responded with a mischievous laugh. "He had way too much fun when we went shopping for his and he's already taken it apart and filled it with his own homemade hardware half a dozen times."
The warden gave a knowing smile and nod. "That's my boy."
Roxanne smiled then shook her head. "I wish he was here right now, James. He's been bouncing off the walls about this dinner for two days. And you know how hesitant he can be about being out in public when he isn't grandstanding. Stupid fire."
"I'm surprised you didn't get called in on it," the warden remarked, as he picked up the nearly-forgotten menu and got serious about picking something off the list of entrees.
"Well, they called," she said matter-of-factly. "But I told them to send someone else since this was my night off, and I had dinner plans with my boyfriend's father."
The warden didn't even have time to respond to that before her face lit up as she looked over his shoulder in the crowded restaurant. It wasn't hard to guess what, or more specifically who, she must be looking at.
He turned. Megamind waving wildly at them as he zigzagged between tables towards their corner of the crowded restaurant.
The boy looked entirely out of place, and not just because of his skin color or his tight bodysuit or spiked gloves. Mostly because he was covered in smudges of what looked like black soot with a frantic look on his face.
"Did I miss it?" Megamind's eyes were wide as he approached, ignoring the stares of the other patrons in the restaurant. "Am I too late?"
"No," the warden and Roxanne both answered in unison.
"We haven't even gotten to the embarrassing stories about you as a baby yet," Roxanne added teasingly as he arrived at their table. Megamind shot her a brief smile that carried the faint trace of a blush before straightening.
"That should be entertaining for you, Miss Ritchie, as that I was a very intelligent and charismatic child," he said smugly, giving the warden a knowing look that indicated that he expected the older man to make him look good.
The warden responded with a snort. "Your favorite hobby was chewing on your own hand."
Megamind looked away quickly, the tips of his ears flushing bright pink and the warden cringed. Things between him and the boy were so tenuous, and he didn't need to blow it by picking on him.
"Awww, that is too adorable."
Megamind looked up to see Roxanne practically melting at him from across the table. His elastic face quickly shifted into a giddy grin.
"Are you just gonna stand there all day?" the warden asked, his gruff tone betrayed by his affectionate smile. Megamind quickly wiggled into the empty seat and he fidgeted nervously for a moment. Then he looked between the two and took a big breath, straightening in his chair and rolling his shoulders back.
"Warden, this is Roxanne. My girlfriend," Megamind said, beaming with pride as he made an elaborate show of stating the obvious. Then he pointed from one to the other. "And Roxanne, this is my father."