(Shorter chapter. Next one will have cuddles. Yay cuddles. Wanted to post something, and with the way updates have been going...longer and longer and longer chapters, spaced months apart? Nah, man. Shorter chapters. More updates. What do you think? Yes? No? Let me know what you'd prefer; I can go either way.)


/muffled shrieking

Chapter 17

The glass storm door creaks open and there's a single crunching step, then a horrified yell. "Mom? Mom! Annie! Megs!"

Drew comes barreling into the living room with a plastic grocery bag in each hand, wide-eyed and pale and breathing hard, but he stops dead when he sees Roxanne standing there, apparently fine, and Megamind sitting on the sofa looking baffled and slightly alarmed by his sudden entrance. A second later the toilet in the master bedroom flushes; that must be Linda. He can relax. Everyone's okay. Everyone's fine.

"Everybody's fine," Roxanne echoes his thoughts, tossing something black and shiny into a metal wastebasket with a clink.

She doesn't look fine; she looks exhausted. She's hiding it well, but the shadows under her eyes are dark and she's all but expressionless. Drew drops the bags and takes two striding steps and drags her into his chest, squeezing her as tight as he can, scowling bleakly into the middle distance. She's okay. Of course she would be. She's always okay in the end.

Roxanne halfheartedly pats his back. Megamind doesn't move—he can't help but remember again that he used to pull this sort of thing all the time. He used to be the one making Drew look wrecked like this, he used to be the one to make Linda cry and Orson worry, it was him. For years and years. And that doesn't feel so good.

"Okay, enough, or I'm gonna suffocate," Roxanne finally mumbles into Drew's jacket, then shoves him off. "I'm fine, shut up."

"Kiss for Baby Sister," Drew says as he pulls away, "Mwah," against her forehead. "I'm so glad you're okay. Amateurs make me nervous."

"Make you nervous?" she retorts with a wan little grin that doesn't reach her eyes. "Sorry, which one of us got kidnapped today?"

"And kiss for Space Brother," he announces, sweeping over to the couch and bending down and doing the same thing to Megamind before hugging him tightly around the shoulders and muttering, "Thank you. You're perfect." Megamind is too bewildered to actually hug him back before he pulls away again, grumbling, "You're also damp." He shoves his hands in his pockets.

"So what the hell happened in here?" he asks, looking around and directing the question at both of them.

"Vitre happened," Roxanne says simply. She's dropped into a crouch now and is picking up more shards of glass. "He escaped from the police and came here, but Mom was hiding in the study because she saw when he smashed through the front door. The police called Megamind and told him what was up, and—"

"It wasn't the police," Megamind interrupts. "It was Dead Bowie."

Drew whips around. "Dead Bowie called you on your phone?"

Roxanne blinks over at them, then shrugs to herself and doesn't ask. Maybe later she'll feel interested, but for the time being, the less attention they pay to her, the better. She'd been hoping the post-kidnapping jitters would leave her alone this time, but it looks like that's not happening. Everything seems just a little too bright, a little too loud, a little too strange and slow. Inevitable. Dammit.

"I can't believe he called you!" Drew blurts, his eyes bugging half out of his head. "How did he get your number?"

Megamind shrugs. "Apparently they have a list. I think the cops called Bad Horse to see if he could send someone up to take care of this, but it's five hours from L.A. So they called again when Vitre escaped, and here we are."

"Hey, you mind getting the vacuum out?" Roxanne asks in a quiet monotone. "I think this is most of the big pieces." Megamind turns to look at her, his brow creased in concern. It's a different tone than she usually uses, but he isn't sure what it means.

Drew leans over the bin she's been putting them in—too close, too close! and she leans away. Drew doesn't notice. "Black?" he murmurs, frowning. "What'd he glass?"

"My leathers," Megamind grumbles. "Guess I'll file this under 'more reasons I dress in layers.' I wish I'd thought to bring a spare set." It's only then that Drew notices that Megamind is sitting around in only the spandex undersuit portion of his costume rather than the slightly padded leathers he'd left the house in. He's also sitting on a towel rather than directly on the couch, and he has to wonder why the other man hasn't changed into dry clothes yet.

Which brings him to the red splotches of blood soaking into the carpet and the bandages on Megamind's heels where they're visible sticking out of the backs of Drew's slippers, which aren't quite long enough for his narrow feet. Drew squeezes his lips together, but Megamind addresses Roxanne before he can say anything. "You should go upstairs and take a shower. I'm sure your brother can take care of the vacuuming and the front hall."

She shakes her head, rubs tense hands on her jeans and looks around. "No, I'm okay."

"You really do need to take a real shower to get the last of that stuff Vitre dropped you in off," he tells her. "And you look really tired. A shower will help."

She looks at him, sees the shadow of who he used to be and quickly looks away again because, one, that's weird, and two, she really doesn't want to think of him that way right now, really doesn't want to think about that. "I don't want to take a shower."

He blinks. "But—"

"You don't have to," Drew says quietly, looking at his sister. "It can wait. It's been at least an hour, any ill effects from the compound are already in swing so a shower now versus later won't do much to help." He catches Megamind's eye and shakes his head a little, signaling, Drop it. But Megamind just frowns at him, uncomprehending.

"Look, I'm not comfortable leaving any residue where—"

"I'm not taking a shower, Megs," Roxanne snaps, suddenly sharp. "Deal with it."

He sits frozen for a second, unsure how to react to that. With Drew it's a friendly nickname, but Roxanne only calls him 'Megs' when she's upset with him. What did he do? What did he say that was wrong? Everything was fine a few minutes ago.

"Yeah, so I'll be right back," Drew says, and just like that he's gone, taking his grocery bags with him. Dimly, Megamind registers him rustling around in the kitchen. There's clinking of flatware and dishes.

Roxanne sighs and pinches the bridge of her nose, then plops down on the far end of the couch with a bump, as far as she can get from Megamind without choosing another piece of furniture. The ticking clock on the wall suddenly sounds extremely loud and slow. "I'm sorry," she sighs, "I just—I forgot, you never saw me after a kidnapping until…what was it, five years in?"

"Four," he whispers. "The hydroelectric mice. Are you okay?"

She laughs shortly, but there's no joy in it. "Right, yeah. Anyway. I used to freak out a lot after. It gets bad when I relax." She sees him start to move towards her out of the corner of her eye and immediately waves a hand at him. "No, don't…don't touch me. I don't want you to—" She pauses, then slumps forward, puts her elbows on her knees and her hands over the back of her neck. "Don't wanna be touched," she mumbles.

She sits like that for a while, just breathing into the warm space between her legs and stomach, chin against her chest. Her breath is loud in her own head and she tries to concentrates on it because that used to work sometimes, but this time all she's getting is dizzying flashes of the warehouse and the Lair and open sky.

"I'm—I'm sorry." Megamind's voice pulls her back into the world, sounding farther away than he probably is.

She'd wanted to hear him say that for years. For years. Just because being kidnapped was better than being at home the first few times he'd taken her doesn't mean she wasn't still scared until she'd figured out it was a game. Doesn't mean she'd never resented him for pushing her, toying with her, taking advantage and messing up her plans at every turn.

She'd lain awake at night wanting to make him sorry, wanting him to leave her alone, to make him so sorry for ever tangling with her that he'd never dare look at her again. "It's okay," she says dully. "It wasn't that buh-bad—" Shit, now she's crying.

There's a horrified scrape of spandex on upholstery as Megamind moves, and when he speaks again he's very close—not touching, but somewhere close in front of her. "No it's not," he says, "it's not okay. Don't say it is, because it isn't."

"I used to hate you," she chokes out. "And now you're my favorite puh-person. That's messed up."

"I know, I know it is," he answers. "I don't blame you. I kind of hate me too. Sometimes." It's more than he'd usually say, but she doesn't appear to notice.

"I used to hate you. That's what's messed up." She sniffs. "I used to hate you and now I love you so much. And today I got kidnapped again, and I'm…and your stupid face isn't what I…" She swallows hard. "But you didn't do anything wrong."

"I'm sorry," he says again, for lack of anything better to say. "But…can I please, can you just…can you look at me?" It feels so strange to be saying that. He hates being looked at—or he'd used to hate it, anyway. He still doesn't like it very much when other people do it, but if Roxanne can't look at him he thinks he might just start crying right now. "Please," he says again.

Reluctantly, she lifts her head and looks at him, actually sitting in front of her with his eyebrows mussed and his face all rumpled up with worry, staring at her.

And thank God, because instead of more disconcerting memories of maniacal laughter and kidnappings, she remembers sunlight on blue skin in Colorado as he pushed her down, laughing, before he kissed her. She remembers the sounds of fighting at a gas station in Nebraska ("Stay behind me and don't say anything"), remembers him coming out of the lake at dawn with chattering teeth and shivering shoulders, remembers his hands bound above his head and a poorly-made cold fusion reactor twenty feet away. Remembers him bruised and unconscious and healing in her bed. And all of a sudden she loves him so much she hardly knows what to do with it.

She almost reaches for him then, but she really isn't done trying to stifle her panic yet. She loves him like burning, knows him like she knows her own right hand, but she doesn't feel nearly steady enough on her feet yet for all the hugging he probably wants to do.

So it's lucky that Drew chooses that moment to appear in the doorway carrying three bowls—one in each hand and the third balanced between the other two and his chest. He takes in the scene in one sweeping glance, Megamind sitting on the coffee table looking miserable, and his sister scrunched into the end of the sofa and having a cry. He pads over to them, rolling his eyes and crunching on glass all the way across the carpet. Roxanne hadn't gotten to cleaning that side of the room yet. "All right, you two, that's enough," he says. "I do hereby decree that all shall be happy now, with smiles! for I return bearing ice cream."

Roxanne looks up at him and sniffs. "You got me ice cream?" Megamind blinks and straightens up, his expression blanking and then rearranging into something casually nonchalant. Roxanne isn't the only one good at hiding emotions, but it's still there in his eyes. Neither of them is really okay. They definitely need ice cream, Drew thinks, congratulating himself on his forethought. Megamind takes the bowl balanced in the middle so Drew won't drop it when he gives Roxanne hers.

"You always ate it after kidnappings when we Skyped," he says with a shrug. "So after you two left and the news got boring, I figured I'd run down to the corner store."

She blinks at him, the corners of her mouth turning down. "But it's miles away and I took your car." There's no way Linda let him take the Caddie, and even though their father had taken his Ural to the conference and left his government-issued monstrosity behind, Drew would have needed a special license for it. Just because that thing looks like a car doesn't mean it is one, technically.

He shrugs again, nonplussed, and puts a big spoonful in his mouth. "I said I decided to run down to the store. Part of the way, anyhow," he mumbles. Then his face contorts. "Ow, fuck. Brrnfreze."

"You are better than the best brother," she tells him as he goes over to the loveseat with his thumb pushed against his forehead. She's not kidding, either. There's whipped cream and syrup and too many sprinkles, which of course is still not nearly enough. And peanuts. And those weird crumbly things that she's always been too afraid to read the ingredients on.

Drew just shrugs. "Yeah, we had some sirple in the fridge so I figured I might as well go all out."

Megamind blinks over at him, frowning a little bit. "Sirple…?"

It's Roxanne who answers, smiling through her tears, "Roses are red, violets are purple. I love you like maple sirple."

Megamind can't help it, he starts laughing. She's messy and beautiful and he loves her so much even if his insides are tied up in a nervous knot right now. She's gorgeous even with her blotchy face and mussed-up hair and watery grin, and frankly he can't believe she's still aiming that grin at him. He only hopes that what happened with Vitre hasn't changed any of that—he doesn't think anything's changed and he's not so worried yet that he's going to ask, but he is a little bit worried. Okay, so his stomach feels nasty and twisty and his heart is loud in his ears, but that happens sometimes. He'll be okay. Mostly, he really doesn't want to make this about him. Not yet. Not right now.

He sets the ice cream on the table next to him without taking a bite. It smells like half the toppings are corn syrup—this late in the day he'd probably be safe, but since he's not feeling well right now he'd rather not take the chance. "Can you tell me what the deal is with, um, with showers?" he asks. "Not if you don't want to, but—"

She shakes her head and sniffs. "Usually they calm me down. I just…really don't want one right now." Not unless you come too, she doesn't say, because she's still an odd combination of wanting full-body contact with him and wanting zero contact at all, thank you. She draws her legs up against her chest and balances the ice cream bowl on her knees, staring down into it. Her ears are turning red. "I hope you don't think I was like this after every kidnapping," she adds unexpectedly.

"Er—no, of course not." Liar.

"Because I wasn't, you know, after I got the routine down and I knew you weren't going to hurt me, I was okay," she insists. "Took me a while before I could just…laugh it off, though. I had to trust you not to murder me first."

"Murder's such a harsh word," Drew mumbles around another mouthful of ice cream.

Roxanne raises and lowers one shoulder and scrubs at her aching eyes with the heel of the hand holding her spoon. She's starting to get a headache from all the crying, and her eyes are puffy and sore. "Point is, just because I have a lot of experience doesn't mean I'm not two steps from flipping right now. I'm just. Good at hiding it." She looks away, mutters, "I'm good at hiding a lot of stuff."

Megamind nods. He's not sure if it's safe to speak anymore, so he doesn't say anything. Instead he watches her, his massive intellect intent on detecting any subtle nonverbal cues she might be sending. He hopes desperately that she'll clue him in on what he should do, because he really doesn't know. He really has no idea and it's twisting his stomach into knots; all he knows is he caught a few whiffs of fear through the cottony insulation of the caffeine he'd taken earlier, but he'd also caught some anger and romantic love.

It's entirely possible that she doesn't even know what she's feeling. All he's getting is a confusing cocktail of a bunch of different stuff and he just doesn't know what to do with it, and he can only imagine what it must be like for Roxanne to be the one feeling all that.

Roxanne stays where she is, clicking her spoon against the rim of her bowl, looking at the floor, at the glass plant, anywhere but at him. It's unusual for her to be the one avoiding eye contact. "I learned so many coping mechanisms for during, like, breathing exercises and muscle relaxing techniques. I was a good kidnappee because I worked at it. Doesn't mean it was easy for me."

"But," he says, heart fluttering wildly in his chest despite his best efforts, "but then, if it was so hard, why didn't you…"

"What?" she asks sharply. "Tell you to stop? Tell you to find somebody else?" He nods and she scoffs in the back of her throat. "Tchh. Like I'd give you the satisfaction of knowing I was bothered. Like you'd have stopped." Well, that sounds bitter, but then she follows it up with, "Plus, it was good for my career. You have any idea how many doors you opened for me?" She rolls her eyes. "Probably wouldn't have gotten half as far if not for you."

"Oh come on now," he blurts out. "I held you back, I mean, you…you're amazing, you're a natural in front of the camera. L-look at you."

"I wouldn't have become a real media personality if not for Metro Man having to rescue me all the time," and even with all her training she can't change how the 'rescue' sounds.

"You would have gotten there on your own," he insists. His head is starting to spin in a way he doesn't like. This is a normal conversation, this is fine, everybody is okay and nothing is wrong, but he still feels icky and uncertain. Like he's going to say the wrong thing and she's going to explode—or worse, that he already has said the wrong thing and she's too polite to let him know. He used to feel like this all the time, but he's been getting better about it. "You didn't need me, you've never needed me," he adds.

He means it in a good way, he really does, and he's hoping she'll appreciate the reminder. He means she's fine on her own, she can handle herself—kidnappings, career climbing, whatever. She can handle it. It might be hard, it might hurt, but she can do it because she can do anything. It's what she always says. She doesn't need anybody. And he believes it.

Roxanne bites her lip and looks down at the floor. She hesitates—clearly she's thought of something in response to that—but brushes the comment off and forges ahead. "Anyway," she says, "I got pretty good at handling during. But there isn't anything to focus on afterwards, except how I almost died again. And. I never did figure out how to deal with that part."

"I didn't know." Finally she looks over at him, finds him still sitting on the table inches away, looking stricken but still diligently not reaching out. "I didn't know," he says again. "I—I had no idea."

Roxanne shakes her head. "It was years ago."

"That doesn't make it okay," he protests. "You can't just pretend like…"

She scowls. "Megamind. For the last time. I love you."

"I know you do now," he replies. Her reassurance is nice, but oddly unreassuring. "But I'm still sorry."

She looks at him for a long moment, then cracks a small smile and points her spoon at him. "Y'know, you'd have saved me a lot of time if you'd just told me how much of a marshmallow you really are under all the armor."

"That's me," he says, pushing as much false cheer into it as he can. "Spiky on the outside, chewy on the inside." He feels like a jackass—a pathetic jackass with aching feet. He does know that he's not really a terrible person, at least not anymore, but right now, seeing her like this and knowing he used to make her cry like this, it's hard to feel like he's not awful.

He tries reminding himself that, in spite of everything, she's made a home with him. She sees the good in everybody, true, but that must mean there's something good to see. She's the smartest person he knows, she wouldn't be with him if she didn't really, truly want to be.

And like she said, all that's in the past, but Vitre was today. He needs to focus on today. "Well," he says after a minute, "not showering right away means you'll get to meet the highest-level siren on the West Coast. Probably, I mean, I'm not sure if Dead Bowie is actually coming or not. Bad Horse might have sent somebody else."

Roxanne taps his knee, and his half-musing words stop. He focuses on her, one eyebrow up, his eyes searching. "Come on, coffee tables aren't for sitting," she tells him.

"But I like the coffee table," he says, still trying to figure out why she'd suddenly reached for him.

She shrugs. "Okay." She stretches her feet out instead, lays them across his legs.

It's not much, but it's contact, and it has the added bonus of being more of a comfort to his nerves than words can ever be. He's still halfway expecting a freakout of his own, but at this point he's pretty sure he'll be able to postpone it until she's asleep.

"Mmmm. Okay, I've got boyfriend and bowl—"

"Brother too!"

She rolls her achy eyes. "Yes, and brother. Now explain this 'Bad Horse' thing to me."


Half an hour later they've both calmed down significantly and he's on the couch, Drew is fighting to put the vacuum cleaner away in the overstuffed hall closet, and Roxanne is frowning into the dregs of Megamind's ice cream, which she'd eaten after her own once she'd noticed that he wouldn't touch it. "So, to recap…the Evil League of Evil and the Henchman's Union are affiliated, but they're barely on speaking terms with the Guild of Calamitous Intent. The Peril Partnership is…neutral, as far as allegiances of supervillains go, and the Fraternity of…Torture?" She glances over at him questioningly.

He grins. "Torment."

"The Fraternity of Torment hasn't officially been heard from since the sixties but they're still active. And Bad Horse actually is a…bad horse. And that's who Billy's working for now, which is a whole other level of weird." She takes a deep breath and continues, "You actually weren't joking about the necromancer in Nevada, and somehow you and Wayne managed to avoid all this stuff about licenses and arches and nemeses…"

She scuffs her toes in the carpet, then looks at him. "I can't tell if you're bullshitting or not," she finally complains.

He grins up at her. "Most of the organized supervillain coalitions are in the Southwest or based on privately-owned tropical islands," he admits. "There aren't very many up where we are. A few years ago there were noises about creating a Doom Syndicate, but Metro Man and I ran the potential members out of town."

Her eyes widen at that and she starts to sit up. "Wait, you and Met—" she says, but then the front door opens without warning and someone steps inside, and she pauses and looks around.

Linda's incredulous voice trails faintly from the kitchen. "David Bowie?"

"No," says the stranger, and he looks over at Drew, who's just backing out of the hall closet. "I'm here for the criminal Vitre."

Megamind steels himself and hobbles into the hall as quickly as he can, snagging the Vitre-cube from the mantle on the way and trailing Roxanne in his wake. Dead Bowie is in full Ziggy Stardust costume, forehead circle and hair and everything, but Megamind doesn't bat an eye—it's far from the most outlandish garb he's seen. "Ollo—we spoke on the phone earlier, I'm glad you were able to make it out."

"Ah, yes. Megamind. Good to finally meet you." The other supervillain holds out a hand, smiling thinly. Megamind shakes it. Roxanne seems to have stopped in the doorway to the living room, which is good; he really doesn't want her to distract Bowie or pull his attention to her.

"I apologize for my disarray—" he begins, but Bowie simply raises his chin and gives his head a little shake.

"Think nothing of it. Nobody but the esteemed Dr. Horrible stays in full regalia at home." He cranes his head around and catches Roxanne's eye—so much for her keeping a low profile. "Speaking of whom, he sends you his regards. He expressed regret at not being to give them to you himself, but our leader has him on an assignment in Baja."

Roxanne gulps but doesn't move. Her mouth has gone suddenly dry. It's interesting; Dead Bowie doesn't speak above a clear murmur but she can feel his voice humming in her bones.

Luckily, he doesn't seem to be expecting an answer. Instead, he returns his attention to Megamind, who passes him the cube. "What is this?" he asks, peering at the glowing prism in his hand.

"Vitre." He grins one of his old evil villain smiles with just a few too many teeth to seem entirely sane. "Just add water."

"Ah." His gaze flicks down. "What happened to your feet?"

"Broken glass," Megamind says shortly. "And a regrettable lack of forethought."

"Hm." A line appears between his eyebrows, but that's all. "The Purple Puncher has connections to a healer in Big Sur. I would be happy to arrange a meeting."

Megamind's smile is appropriately grateful but doesn't reach his eyes. "I appreciate the offer, but we'll only be here a few more days and our schedule is rather full."

One eyebrow goes up. The line stays where it is. Interesting. "It would be no trouble," Bowie says smoothly. "She doesn't typically do house calls, but I believe she could be persuaded to make an exception for your particular case."

"Thank you," Megamind says, "but I'll be all right. No intervention is necessary. I heal quickly and it would be inconsiderate to inconvenience her over the holiday for nothing."

Dead Bowie looks at him for a minute, dark eyes boring into green, and then he says, "I take it, then, that you aren't planning to Accept our Offer?"

Megamind inclines his head. "As much as I'm flattered by Bad Horse's unusual invitation, I must respectfully decline."

"Hm," Bowie says again. "You really ought to Reconsider. I…" His unnervingly steady gaze slips down Megamind's side to his hip and settles on the weapon he's wearing. "Is that the famous De-Gun I've heard so much about?"

Megamind glances down and nods.

Bowie holds out a hand, palm up. So far, he hasn't blinked once. "May I?"

The important thing is to be respectful. Megamind lifts the weapon from its holster and places the stock in the palm of Bowie's hand.

He holds it up, runs his fingers over the filigree, peers at the power source. Glances up at Megamind. "This isn't our technology."

"No, it's…something I brought with me."

He cocks it, raises an eyebrow at the focal spires. Then he slides effortlessly into a duelist's stance, his arm thrown out to the side, aiming straight at Drew. "Stop That," he says softly.

Drew grins his most disarming grin. "Is it working?"

"No." The little frown returns. "And you're going to give yourself an aneurism. Stop."

Drew blinks and stops, then goes white to the lips and chokes. Otherwise, he doesn't move. Not even to breathe.

Megamind clears his throat and Bowie glances back down at him, finds a second pistol, this one small, sleek, and silver, aimed directly at him. The smaller supervillain is hard and unsmiling. "He's mine," he snarls. "Undo that, or I will break you."

The taller man cocks his head, but he murmurs, "Beat," and Drew's face goes scarlet as fast as he'd paled and he chokes on a cough. "Normally," Bowie clarifies, his tone suddenly severe. "No Tachycardia."

Drew falls back to lean against the wall and breathes. He's still red-faced and breathing hard, but he looks…mostly like he'll be okay.

Megamind returns the target-specific disintegrator gun to his belt, glad that the siren had no way of knowing that the weapon is about as dangerous as a water pistol to living organisms. Of course it doesn't matter, he would have found a way, he always finds a way—but the bluff was easier.

Dead Bowie hands the de-gun back. "The workmanship is exquisite," he says mildly, completely ignoring everything that just happened. "Dr. Horrible would love to have a look at this. You should Join Us."

"Thank you, but I'm happily retired," Megamind replies. He doesn't smile. He wants this person gone, and while he's not about to try to kick the man out—he could, but he's tired and out of sorts and doesn't relish the idea of his heart stopping in his chest as the result of a basic command backed by sheer force of will. "Okay, Drew?" Out the corner of his eye he sees a hazy thumbs-up.

"Yes…so I've heard." Dead Bowie gives him another long, deep look, but finally says, "Let us know if you Reconsider. You'll find we take care of our people." He pockets the Vitre-cube and turns to leave—he gets almost out the door, but then he pauses. "Your name was Drew?" he says without turning.

There's a brief moment of confused silence before Megamind clears his throat and looks meaningfully at Drew, who jumps. "Y-yes. Uh, sir."

He still doesn't turn around. "Know your limits. Don't push them. And increase your vitamin B intake."

"Right," Drew says, shaken.

"And Don't Call Me 'Sir,'" he adds just before the storm door slams behind him. Half a minute later, something with lights lifts up into the sky and hums away south at a leisurely pace.

A moment later Linda says, "Please tell me that's the last supervillain I'm going to see for a while. Drew, are you sure you're okay?"

Her son nods. "Yeah, I'm fine. I'll be fine."

"I can't make any promises," Megamind shrugs, glancing back at her and forcing a grin. "I'm going to be here for a few more days, so unless you're planning on walking around blindfolded…"

"Oh, ha ha."

"Which I can absolutely arrange," he continues earnestly. "I wouldn't recommend it as a lifestyle choice if you value your shins, but it's doable if you're really that opposed to seeing things that might upset you. In fact, I could probably make you a set of glasses that turn completely black when someone you don't like walks into the room."

"Don't antagonize my mom," Roxanne hisses from the living room doorway, but Linda rolls her eyes.

"Oh, lighten up, Annie, not everything has to be a fight." She hauls herself to her feet, shaking her head. "I'm off to bed, that's enough excitement for one day. You three don't stay up too late. Big day tomorrow."

Drew clears his throat. He still looks a little off, but he's recovering well. "Who all is coming for dinner?" For some reason, Linda looks apologetic, and Drew makes a disgruntled noise without waiting for an answer. "Awesome," he mutters—whatever it is, it's clearly anything but.

"I'm sorry, but she's family."

"Yeah, I know," he says tiredly, waving a hand at her. "It's fine, don't worry about it. I think I'll turn in, too. 'Night, everybody."

"Wait," Megamind interrupts. "If you're feeling up to it, could you go over to the park and pick up my things? I left my cape. And my boots and gloves." He glances at Roxanne and adds, "Unless you brought them."

"I was just a little bit preoccupied at the time."

Drew looks uncertain, as if he wants to refuse, but Megamind has his number. "I'll let you take my car," he singsongs, dangling the keys in the air as further temptation.

Sure enough, Drew's eyes light up and he snatches them. "Only fair, since Annie didn't bring my car back."

"I was kidnapped!" she protests.

"I brought you ice cream and got my heart stopped," he counters.

"That second one serves you right for trying to influence Dead Bowie," Megamind grouses. "Honestly, I know your brain is tiny, but I thought you had some common sense."

"And your car is perfectly safe," Roxanne says. "It's locked and parked in a parking lot in a decent part of town. We can pick it up tomorrow. Nobody's going to steal a car on Christmas Eve."

"I've stolen cars on Christmas Eve," Megamind points out. "And I know York has, too."

Roxanne glares at him and Drew laughs his way out the door.

Which leaves Megamind standing in the foyer with Linda and Roxanne in the doorway. With Drew out of the way, Roxanne returns to the subject of dinner guests. "Do we have to invite her?"

Linda throws up her hands. "I'm not happy about it either, but she's your father's mother, we can't just leave her alone on Christmas."

"But she's horrible!"

Linda sighs. "Not to you."

Roxanne glares, outraged. "That doesn't mean I can't be offended on his behalf!" she exclaims. "Christmas with her is like Christmas with a passive-aggressive piranha."

"What's wrong with piranhas?" Megamind asks, genuinely stung. He likes those fish.

She gives him a Look. "Very few are as well-trained as yours."

Linda grits her teeth but doesn't say anything about carnivorous fish. "Annie, I will not argue this with you. I'm going to bed."

She bites her lip and scowls. "Fine," she says. "Fine, I'm…I'm just going to go take that shower, I don't even care anymore." With a glance at Megamind, "You coming?"

"Uh…" he stammers for a second or two, then manages to get out, "I'll—I'll be up in a couple minutes, I just have to…water the…porch."

She snorts and rolls her eyes. "Okay, yeah, sure. See you in a few."

She stomps away up the stairs. Linda also turns to go, but Megamind stops her. "Um, do you still have that bottle of hydrogen peroxide? A-and a towel?"

"In the laundry," she says with a vague gesture towards the back of the house, and then she closes the door to her room.

In the laundry. Okay. She probably means in a cupboard in the laundry. He heads back in the direction she'd indicated, hoping the peroxide will be easy to find, but of course it's hiding in the last cabinet on the left and he starts looking on the right. Luckily, he does manage to find a ratty old towel during his search that he's pretty sure nobody is going to miss.

Then he goes back out to the living room. His feet are killing him, but it's nothing he can't deal with; he's had worse over the course of his thirty-some years. The old shower upstairs rattles to life and he wonders if he shouldn't have gone up to make sure Roxanne will be okay—but she'd looked pissed, and if there's one thing that will keep her from losing her cool, it's being angry.

No, she'll be all right on her own. But when he goes upstairs he wants to ask her what exactly all that was about, because seriously, what was all that about?