Author's Notes: The second half. Hope you like it!
Roxanne was about to follow Megamind when her father sighed in exasperation. "Well, I guess he recognized me, Elaine. I knew this whole business was a mistake." He peered at his daughter. "In more ways than one."
"Recognized you? How do you two know each other anyway? Why did he go tearing out of here?"
Mrs. Ritchi glanced at her husband. "Oh, dear, this was really unfortunate. It was years ago, part of your father's work for the university, his research, you know."
"You're an astronomer, Dad, what research could possibly upset him?"
"I would like to remind you that I have a degree in biology as well," Dr. Ritchi said. "I was trying to start up a new department at the university to study alien life-forms. The university shot it down, though. They said the xenobiology departments in Arizona and Florida were more than enough, and that a third one here would be redundant." Dr. Ritchi shook his head in annoyance. "Two aliens right here in Metro City. They turned their backs on a great opportunity.
"Not like an alien spaceship crash lands here every day," he continued. "It was a unique opportunity to study an alien life form. Took me a few years to get permission to even run any tests, though. The city officials felt that he was inherently dangerous." He glared balefully in the direction of the lobby. "Turns out they were right, too. Only a few weeks old and he builds a device that blew a whole in the wall! Half a dozen prisoners escaped."
Roxanne was familiar with the details of Megamind's early incarceration. Even at the time she was researching the master criminal's life it had seemed rather tragic.
"He was just a child. Don't you think it's possible those convicts put him up to it?"
Dr. Ritchi made a dismissive gesture. "Nevertheless. All water under the bridge now. At the time it seemed obvious that he had to be kept locked up. You may not like to hear this in your current state of mind, but I think the authorities were right to be concerned. Every time he got out there was nothing but mayhem!"
My current state of mind, Roxanne thought slowly to herself. She put a lid on her rising anger. This was getting off the topic. Then she frowned. "Wait, I thought you said that the university shot down your proposal..."
"It didn't happen overnight, Roxanne," he said testily. "I was pushing for it for years. The alien boy was supposed to be the first subject."
Yes, I imagine he was an easier target than the other alien boy, Roxanne thought. I can't see the Scotts letting anyone near their own precious little alien. Out loud she said, "All right, so you got permission to run...what kind of test?"
"Well, I suppose he was about three or four. i was allowed to bring some monitors to the prison to get some brain wave readings. I made it clear to the warden that it was not adequate, that I should really be allowed to bring the boy to my lab, where I had more equipment, where I could get some blood and tissue samples. The warden refused."
"So you ran a few scans, took some readings," Roxanne said. She frowned. That didn't sound that bad, but Megamind had acted traumatized...
Dr. Ritchi looked uncomfortable for once. "Over the course of a few days. I'm afraid I got a little frustrated over the warden's lack of support, and decided to try taking a little blood for analysis. The warden didn't need to know. But at the sight of the syringe he—the boy Megamind-started screaming. Then that fish started yelling for the guard. I didn't even know that thing could talk! Or Megamind either for that matter. I never heard him make a peep. While I was arguing with the guard the warden burst in, all red in the face, and kicked me out! Said he'd have me arrested if I ever came back. The nerve."
Roxanne was aghast. How could her father have been so insensitive!
"Cut you up?" Minion asked over the phone, mystified. "What are you talking about, sir? Have you been drinking coffee again?"
Megamind glared at the phone. "NoIhaven'tbeendrinkingcoffee! Listen, I'm talking about Him, Mr. Lab Coat, Dr. Frankenstein and Igor, the one who was going to dissect me, ages ago, before I even went to shool."
"O-kaay, I think I remember those guys, but that lab assistant wasn't really an Igor, he just had a bad slouch, and I think 'dissect' is a bit strong..."
"Who cares! I think I'm hyperventilating."
"You know, that name, Ritchi, that always did kind of make me wonder if he was related to Roxanne, but, well, we're always so busy, with the-"
"You knew the name of that TORTURER and you just let me waltz in here without telling me? Oh, thanks A LOT Minion! You're supposed to be on top of things, keep me informed! With a little bit of research you-"
Sure, thought Minion, blame me, that's what I'm here for.
"-I can't be expected to remember everything! But I remember what he looks like well enough, oh, yes, he wasn't going to quit until he had me on a slab, I'm talking vivisection here, Minion-"
Megamind paused as he realized he'd been striding back and forth and his voice was getting a wee bit too loud. He glanced around. The hostess and the manager were studiously avoiding his gaze, as was a small knot of waiting customers. A small child of indeterminate gender was chewing its fist and peering at him in interest.
Megamind hurried back and crouched behind the pillar again. "Quick, get the de-gun and get down here!"
Minion rolled his eyes. Sir was seriously freaking out. Obviously a firm hand was called for here.
"Now, sir, you cannot go around zapping people just because they're kind of scary. It is not proper hero behavior," he said severely. "I want you to relax, and take a deep breath. Good. Now another one, just keep breathing."
"Yes"-gasp- "all right."
"OK, now look at this situation logically. You're feeling some stress because of the whole meet-the-folks thing, and now you've gotten a little bit of a shock because of who her dad is, so it's a double whammy. But, really, he can't do anything to you. You're not a little kid anymore, sir. You are not helpless. Remember your accomplishments! Who was the thorn in Metro Man's side all those years? Come on, tell me who."
"That's right. Who busted out of jail so many times they oughta name the place after him?"
"Who stopped Titan in his tracks when no one else could?"
"That was me!"
"The Defender of Metro City doesn't back down from anybody! Right? Just go back in there and...so, are you hiding in the restroom?"
"So you just go back in there and keep it light. Be polite. Keep it together for a little. Show 'em nothing bothers you. Be dignified. Be pleasant."
"Pleasant. Yes, I remember that pointer."
"Oh good. Be charming. You know you can be very charming, sir, haven't I said?"
"Yes I can do that."
Minion paused. "How's the mother? Any shockers there, she's not your old school teacher or anything?"
"No, no. She's OK."
A few more reassurances later, Megamind put away the phone and marched, only slightly wobbly, back to the table.
Minion sighed as he closed up his own cell. Her dad. Roxanne couldn't have possibly known about it. She would have said something. She was quite keen on talking things out. He went back to tidying up. He remembered the nightmares the boss had suffered. Hmm. Maybe he should have told him to make up some excuse and come back to the lair.
"You know, this might have been useful to know before I arranged this meeting," said Roxanne to her father. She spotted Megamind coming toward them and hurried to meet him.
"I'm really sorry about this," she said. "Look, why don't we postpone-"
"Oh it's all right, it's all right. It was just a bit of a surprise, that's all." He was already walking past her. "Let's sit down, I don't want to be rude."
Roxanne was sufficiently rattled by the situation that she followed his lead.
A waiter filled their water glasses. There was a tense silence. Megamind seemed to have run out of words and had a fixed grin on his face. Mrs. Ritchi did her best to make small talk and asked Roxanne about work at the station. Dr. Ritchi picked up a dinner roll and a knife. Megamind stared.
The knife glinted.
Megamind's throat tightened.
Dr. Ritchi buttered away. The scalpel flashed.
Huh! Scalpel! The voice of logic scoffed in his head. Don't be ridiculous. It's a butter knife. It's not even sharp.
But a darkened doorway creaked open somewhere in his memories. Some nightmare was lurking. It shook off the dust and cobwebs of forgetfulness and rose up. The voice of logic took one look and bolted.
He could almost feel the walls of the prison around him again. A little kid huddled in bed, clutching a fish bowl, Minion making soothing sounds, telling him it was all right, that mean old doctor wasn't coming back...
Dr. Ritchi put the knife down.
Megamind couldn't take his eyes off it. He clenched his shaking hands. He could feel the blood draining out of his face. This was worse than when that muscle bound moron Titan was trying to rip his head off. At least in battle he could fight, or run, not sit here like some prisoner waiting for the executioner. He actually was going to faint. He was going to faint and totally humiliate himself in front of Roxanne and everybody...
Breathe. Minion had said to breathe. He breathed.
Abruptly he felt a wave of sudden fury. No fainting! Always bring the fight to the enemy! The most amazing mind in the world isn't going to cower and shiver in front of this guy.
He allowed himself a small, slightly evil smile.
"Perform any illegal operations lately, or are you retired now?" he asked brightly.
Roxanne put her hand up to her forehead. Never a dull moment, she thought grimly. Mrs. Ritchi's anxious eyes moved swiftly between her husband and Megamind. Dr. Ritchi gave an aggravated sigh and wiped his hands on a napkin.
"I mean, I just never heard if you were lucky enough to terrorize any other freak show type little kids," said Megamind.
"I will not," Dr. Ritchi said angrily, "apologize for attempting to advance the cause of scientific inquiry-"
"Ooo! Nice vocabulary."
"At the time," Dr. Ritchi continued, "it was not at all clear to me that you were even a sentient being."
"What? And my wonderfully large head didn't tip you off?"
"You never spoke when I was around, or even made eye contact. I considered the possibility," he added maliciously, "that the prison guards were merely fooled into thinking you were sentient. It was possible you were a very clever mimic."
"Like a parrot? Ho ho ha ha!" Megamind guffawed. "Well, I certainly hope I have since laid your mind at rest as far as that goes! Hey, here's a funny story. One day Dr. Ritchi here suggested taking Minion off to his laboratory to 'study him further,' but, good ol' warden. He told him that Minion and I were psychically linked and that if we were ever separated by more than ten feet, I'd suffer a seizure and die. Ha ha ha!"
Dr. Ritchi was turning red. "I didn't come here to be made fun of-"
"Oh, where do you usually go?"
"Megamind," Roxanne hissed. She was upset with her father but she wasn't prepared for a permanent rift between them.
"I came here to get to the bottom of this inexplicable affection that our daughter seems to have developed for you! After all those kidnappings? I can only assume that it's some kind of misplaced gratitude for having rescued her from that Titan maniac."
"Wow! That is quite a theory, mister doctor. Except for being totally WRONG!"
Roxanne grabbed Megamind's arm and leaned in to whisper in his ear.
"Would you mind letting me get a word in for a minute?"
Megamind subsided a bit, though sullenly. "Barely got started," he mumbled.
She faced her parents. "Look, I know this is not a normal way to begin a relationship, and if you even think about saying "Stockholm Syndrome," she snarled suddenly at her father as he opened his mouth, "I will walk out of here and never speak to you again."
Dr. Ritchi huffed out a breath and sank back into his chair.
"If you bothered to listen to any of those interviews I had to go through then you would know that I am not under any sort of delusion. Did I join Megamind in a life of crime? No! He's the one who's changed his life around. He's done his best to make amends, he returned everything that he stole, and the city gave him a full pardon. He takes his job seriously as Metro City's defender. He is an amazing person and you need to give him a chance. I have. I love him. I wouldn't be here with him if he were, you know, still running amok," she trailed off.
Megamind felt his chest swell. "You really think I'm amazing?" he said quietly. With a gentle smile she took his hand.
Mrs. Ritchi impulsively grabbed Roxanne's other hand. "We think it's wonderful, dear, wonderful! We just want you to be happy. Megamind, I am so impressed with what you're trying to accomplish with your life. Everyone should do their best to improve themselves, I've always thought."
"Speak for yourself, Elaine," grumbled her husband. "I don't think it's so wonderful. He's a hardened criminal. This transformation is probably all an act! By this time next year he'll probably have robbed us all blind!"
"HA HA! That's what you think! I've already looted Metrocity once, I don't need to do it again. BO-RING! Plus, uh, it would be totally wrong, of course," he added hastily, glancing at his beloved.
"I never thought that you, an intelligent, capable person, would ever take up with an ex-con!"
"It's all right Roxanne. With you by my side, I care not for petty insults!" Megamind declared loftily. He felt full of electricity. "Your father can say what he likes. In the fullness of time he will come to see the rightness of our cause! Nothing can stand before true love!" Automatically he had stood up and was sweeping his arms about in his best grandstanding mode. His voice boomed. "I'm going to marry her and there's nothing you can do to stop me!"
His triumphant laugh barely got going before it was strangled by the shock of realizing what he'd just said.
Someone dropped a fork amid the vast, echoing silence. There were a few muffled gasps from various corners of the room. This loads better than dinner theater.
He couldn't look at her. He had to look at her. His heart stopped when he saw the tears welling up in her eyes. Had he just thrown out what was supposed to have been the world's greatest proposal as a TAUNT? No humiliation was too great. He immediately fell on his knees before Roxanne's chair. Her lips lifted in a trembly smile and his heart started beating again.
"Um...Roxanne...will you? Marry me?"
"YES!" she shrieked and threw herself at him. There was applause and cheering.
Dr. Ritchi scowled. "Roxanne, I can only hope you come to your senses. He's completely unsuitable. He's an alien, for crying out loud."
"Harold, please! Don't be prejudiced. Be supportive. I'm sure you just need a little time to get used to all this." Mrs. Ritchi moved around the table to hug her daughter. "I am so happy for you!" Megamind was startled when she hugged him next. "I hope that someday you can call me 'Mom,' dear."
Megamind blushed nearly purple in embarrasment.
Roxanne and Megamind walked down the sidewalk, holding hands.
"I'm sorry I made you wear that stupid outfit," she said.
Megamind gave her a long considering look. "That's the third time you've apologized in less than twenty-four hours. Who are you and what have you done with the real Roxanne?"
She made a face and smacked him.
"Oh, there you are," he said, grinning and rubbing his arm. "I was starting to wonder." He raised her hand to his lips and kissed it.
She sighed and shook her head. "I guess I was as nervous about this lunch date as you were. Maybe a less stressful event would have been better to show off your new street clothes."
"Yeah," he shrugged. "I guess they're not so bad." Some of his swagger was returning. He took the jacket off and slung it over one shoulder. "Besides, I can make anything look good."
She gave him a sly look, then reached over and undid another button so the hollow of his throat was exposed. "Yes, you certainly can."
"Please, Miss Ritchi, try to control yourself." He grinned bashfully.
They walked on in companionable silence.
After a few moments he said "I had a real proposal in the works that would've knocked your socks off. I didn't mean to blurt it out like that. I got a little carried away."
Roxanne made her eyes big. "No, really? That is so unlike you." They both chuckled.
"Um. I've got a ring, too...back at the lair..."
She smiled. "Then let's go get it."
More notes: I don't know how likely it is for an astronomer to also be a biologist...but I needed some way of explaining why Roxanne had no clue what her dad had been up to all those years ago. So there it is.
As always, reviews are appreciated!