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Maximilian Nero hadn’t done anything legally for over ten years. But some things just had to be done officially to really have meaning. He was currently filling out papers for one of those kind of things.

Nero finished the form with a final swoop of his pen and sat back in his chair with a sigh. All the form needed was one final signature. He hit a button on his desk, calling up the blue wire-frame face of H.I.V.E.mind. “Could you call Otto Malpense to my office please?”

“Certainly Dr. Nero.” Replied H.I.V.E.mind, his lit apparition nodding and then disappearing as the blue pen lights hidden in the headmaster’s desk dimmed.

Moments later the door to his office slid open unaided, and Otto walked in. Nero gave him a stern look. “You could ask to come in.”

“Yes, I could, by why would I when I can do this?” Otto snarked, smirking as he mentally commanded the door to close behind him, waving his hand towards the door just to show it was him that was causing it to move.

“So, Dr. Nero, why did you want to see me?”

Nero pushed the nearly completed form to the edge of his desk. “I wanted to see you because of this. I need you to sign it.”

Otto came closer, reading through the lengthy form in a flash. “These are adoption papers.”

“Indeed they are.”

“You want to legally adopt me? You haven’t done anything legally in years.” This brought a smile to Nero’s face. He should’ve known Otto would say something like that. But it also put a shred of doubt into the headmaster’s mind.

“Do you not want me to? I thought you’d like it. I can just dispose of the paper’s of course. According to England you were long ago transfered to another orphanage, but as that one is being shut down I thought it would be easier to have someone adopt you. However, I could always find another- maybe not a real one this time- to ‘transfer’ you to…”

Otto shook his head adamantly, a grin on his face, and his eyes bright almost like he was laughing at Nero for rambling so much. For Nero’s sake it was uncharacteristic, but at least it showed he cared.

“No, it’s great. Thank you.” Otto told him, signing the paper in what was less of a flourish and more of a scribble. As he walked to the door to leave for his next class Otto couldn’t help but turn and smile at his headmaster and newly adoptive father. “See you later, Dad.” And then he was gone, dashing down the hallway to catch up with Laura and Wing.

---

Darkdoom looked over the adoption paper as he and Nero talked over drinks the following night. “You know, it says here that Otto was adopted by you and your spouse Natalya. And it looks like she even sighed it!” He raised an eyebrow at Nero, a facial expression that was stark against his bald head.

Nero swirled the dark liquid in his wine glass. “Hush. It’s not like you have never pretended to be married to someone before.

Darkdoom leaned back, his eyes flitting towards the ceiling for a moment. “Touché.”