The Professor spoke up, "Have you taken that medicine Dexter gave you?"
"Four-eyes is NOT-" she coughed and choked again, her cheeks paling, "...not my doctor."
Bubbles' eyebrows tilted upwards in pity, "You're... you're doing that on purpose aren't you."
Buttercup growled, "Maybe if this cough gets bad enough I could get out of doing the class talk, heh..." she muttered with grim optimism. She glanced at her hands once she moved them away from her mouth, "Uh oh..."
The Professor grit his teeth, "Go get a tissue and clean up. And no, you're not pulling a sickie on this one. You missed enough class after that fight, anyway." As Buttercup scampered to the kitchen to clean her hands of the blood she coughed up, Utonium added, "Had I known you would have tried something so stupid I would have never let you go..." He clicked the TV onto mute as another story came up of little importance. Some tale of bushfires in far away Australia. He didn't have time to care about Australia. Something else was bugging him, "Bubbles...?"
His blonde-haired child stared up at him with large azure eyes "Mmm?"
"You said when you got home that you got called to the bridge when that car exploded, right?"
"Yeah, it was about halfway through lunchtime. Why?"
Buttercup's voice carried over from the kitchen, "Stupid explosion made me miss the end of the soccer game! Was gonna whup Eddy's ass, too!"
"Mind your language and take that medicine!" Utonium dismissed her with that order. Bubbles continued to stare at him, "Did you happen to hear anything about where those men came from and what they were doing with that convoy?"
Bubbles narrowed her eyes a bit, "Policeman Walker said that they weren't gonna tell him what was in that van. Said it was just bad car maintenance and that was all. He didn't believe them at all, I could tell."
"That man they showed on TV... did you get his name?"
"I don't think he said what his-"
"Because that man is Tobias Beck." Professor Utonium said sternly.
Bubbles' eyes flashed with sudden recognition, "Oh yeah! He said his name was Beck or somethin'... and he didn't look very happy..."
The Professor stared at his little girl right in the eye, "Bubbles... It's not just because the other two are busy, but I think you know by now that despite how many times Buttercup says you're not smart... I trust your opinion very strongly."
"You... you do?"
"You have a very honest insight, Bubbles so right now I need you to tell me what you felt from that man when you saw him. When he spoke, when he moved, even when he made eye contact with people. Do you think" Utonium's glare was intense "that he was hiding something?"
Bubbles quivered a little, feeling a bit uncomfortable "P-Professor, I... I'm not sure if..."
The Professor sighed and sat back, giving Bubbles some space. He'd scared her a little and he cursed silently. He wouldn't get an answer from her if she was worked up. Maybe she didn't have an answer and his reliance upon her open and honest nature might fall short this time. But he had to know. Ever since he saw the man's face on TV, he'd wanted to know. "Beck and I, we... we go way back." he muttered. Bubbles returned a puzzled gaze, unsure where he was going with this. "Back after I'd just graduated, I learned that a few of my classmates were accepted into a specially-funded research company to receive additional training to further their skills with genetic science. Beck was one of them. He was thrilled to be joining an elite group of scientists and I was pleased for him. But after that... for many years after that I'd never heard back from him. It was like he disappeared, altogether, with no trace. I couldn't find any records of the company he joined and nothing indicating his movements or postings. Remember me telling you how I kept track of my classmates? Remember Kira? Yeah... for a while I thought he maybe was dead, but then he shows up on television, denying any knowledge of a major incident and fronting a convoy of unmarked cars escorting a mystery cargo across closed-off roadway. I think... I think it's starting to add up."
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