“Well, I guess this is it,” Hero said, gazing at the smoldering wreckage of Supervillain’s last project. They glanced at Villain, who stared over the destruction, entranced.
“It’s us or him,” Villain said, their mouth quirked into a rare smile. “He won’t stand a chance against the two of us.”
“The two of us…” Hero mused. “It would increase our odds.”
Strange how far they’d come.
“Where do we start?”
Villain looked back at them, strangely captivating against the spark-filled background of debris. “Guess you’re right,” they replied, stepping forward.
Hero looked up at them, eyes dark with exhaustion. “What’re you doing?”
Villain casually leaned against the doorframe. “Thought I’d show up early. Been here all night?”
Hero stifled a yawn with their hand. “No,”
Raising an eyebrow, Villain pushed off the door and took a swaggering step forward. “I could push you over with my little finger. You think you can fight Supervillain like that? Get some sleep.”
Hero frowned. “I’m fine.”
Villain walked over, ignoring Hero’s slight jump when they grabbed their shoulder. “Hey.”
Hero’s gaze dropped back to the work on the desk. They nodded.
“And we’re… back to the good old ways?”
Villain tilted their head. “Unless you’d like to join me. We could, ah, start small. Rob a bank.”
Hero gave a small, quiet laugh. “No can do.” They took a step towards Villain, their heart pounding. “I have to go,” they said.
“Then leave.” Villain didn’t break eye contact.
Hero swallowed, “You… couldn’t keep helping me?”
A brush on Hero’s shoulder, and they turned, trading smiles with Villain. “Do we need to rehearse again?”
“Your plan will work, don’t worry. Distraction in the back, second distraction in the front, and we sneak in.” Villain’s gaze lingered on their lips just a second too long. “Don’t overthink it.”
Villain paused. “Maybe another time.”
-Eight months later-
“It’s pretty simple,” Hero said, “we just have to-“ they paused, noticing the blinking lights on the computer screen. “Gotta go,” they said, and hung up the phone.
A blind thought ran through Hero’s head, wishing for peace- but they shook it off, and finished their coffee. That always seemed to do the trick.
They ignored the light at the front- it was a false entrance, anyway- and ran to the back. The door was gone, replaced by a pile of rubble. It was a dead end.
The lights went out, plunging the hallway into darkness.
“I may have slightly overestimated how many people you had helping you,” said a voice behind Hero. “But it doesn’t really matter, does it?”
Hero turned toward the voice. “How did you-”
“Through the side,” the other person said. “Just like we rehearsed.”
There wasn’t any air left in the hallway.
“What’s wrong?” they said, and Hero could feel the air displace as they moved closer, and Hero stumbled back..
“You- you used me. My plan.”
“Are you surprised?”
A pair of hands caught Hero’s shoulders, spinning them so their back pressed into the wall.
“No,” Hero said, trying to steady their breathing. “I hadn’t heard from you in a while.”
The hands disappeared from Hero’s shoulders, but came back in a moment, tracing over Hero’s cheek.
Hero reached up to knock it away, but Villain captured their wrist instead. They had their other wrist too, then, and brought them together.
“Let me go.” Hero started to struggle.
Villain pressed their body flush against Hero’s, effectively making them freeze. “Are you going to cooperate?”
Hero kept struggling, and Villain sighed. “I thought not.”
They snapped a pair of handcuffs first on one wrist, then the other. With Hero’s hands out of the way, Villain pulled something out of their bag.
“What is that?” Hero asked, keeping their voice calm. “What are you doing?”
“You left me in that wreckage,” Villain said. “I know you didn’t want to.”
“That’s not the point,” Hero insisted.
Villain ignored Hero. “And you can’t admit it. So I’m taking matters into my own hands. Don’t worry, this isn’t permanent.”
They tilted Hero’s head to the side, baring Hero’s neck. They felt a sharp sting, and then Villain’s forearm was pressing their chest into the wall again.
“What was that?” they gasped.
“A simple neuromuscular paralysis drug. You’ll be able to move again in a few hours.”
Hero tried to run away, but Villain had them trapped. They had less than three minutes to get to their table, figure out what they’d been injected with, and put together the reversal.
“You’re not going anywhere,” Villain said. “Just relax.”
A few more seconds, and Hero started to sag against Villain’s chest, until they were completely reliant on Villain to keep them standing.
“This is what we wanted,” Villain whispered, lips brushing against Hero’s ear.
Hero didn’t say anything. They couldn’t.
“You’ll forgive me eventually.”
It was true- and that’s what scared Hero.