By lightning bird

I know I've ignored (okay, avoided) the whole Nano concept for a long time, but this was my plan for them all along. Their names are in part shanghaied, part collaboration with Deserthaze.

1: Pop Quiz


She didn't look up. "What is it, Brainiac?"

Dexter smiled. Had Mandy been looking the expression would have put her on edge since he rarely smiled at her. "Has anyone ever told you how charming you can be?"

With a hearty glare she finally raised her head from her paperwork and fixed the boy genius with a steely-eyed look. He was a study in smug arrogance, as per the usual when he graced her with his presence.


"Don't worry. They never will."

"What do you want, Dexter?"

He stepped into the office he had once occupied and stood before his old desk, completely unperturbed by her aggressive attitude. Living with Buttercup had prepared the young scientist for Mandy's likes, and worse. "A pop quiz of just one question: who would you rather stare at all day, me or Irwin?"

That was the last thing she expected. "What?"

"It's a simple question. Do you need me to rephrase it?"

"No." It annoyed her that he was immune to her 'leave while you still can' vibe. "What's your point?"

"I just need an answer: me or Irwin."

"You're joking," she said, her suspicion levels spiking.

"No, I'm giving you a choice."

"Who would I rather stare at all day? Neither."

"Not an option."

Despite her last claim, Mandy stared at him as she tried to figure out what he was up to this time. Clearly, he wasn't going to leave until he got an answer. It wasn't much of a choice, but of the two of them, she had far more tolerance for Dexter than Irwin. At least Baby Einstein here had his uses and a spine and he made no pretense about what he did or didn't like, whereas Irwin had about as much nerve and daring as a dandelion, and about as much application in her daily life.

"You," she muttered, going right back to reading in the hopes that Dexter would take his answer and go away.

No such luck. Dexter acted as if he hadn't heard which, the recent past taken into consideration, wasn't all that impossible even though he had most of his hearing back. Selective deafness could be useful, he'd discovered.

"Did you say something?"


"Me," he confirmed.


"You'd rather stare at me all day?"

She glowered at his smugness. "Yes."

"That's sweet of you, Mandy. Thank you."

He turned and headed for the door. She let out a little sound of disbelief.


Dexter turned, amused. "Yes?"

"What was that all about?"

"You'll find out."

"That's it?"

He looked at her curiously, as if she was a specimen under one of his microscopes. "Should there be more?"

"Yeah! Like what the heck are you up to, Brainiac?"

"Gathering data. Anything else you'd like to know?"

"How soon can you get your annoying self out of here?"

"Immediately if you like."

"Good idea. Scram."

"As you wish."

"And - hey!" she shouted.

He paused and looked back again expectantly.

"Just because I said I'd sooner stare at you than Irwin doesn't mean that I want to."

He smiled, the same cool and superior expression he had bestowed upon her before. Mandy felt a twinge run through her, knowing perfectly well that he was up to something and she would not find out what it was until he was ready.