A bullet hit the wall next to the villain’s head and they flinched away, turning to snarl at the hero who stood in the mouth of the alley way, gun raised and smiling. The villain’s hand went to their sword and the hero snorted. “Do it. Let’s see how close you get.”
The villain’s lips peeled back in a sneer at the challenge, hand tightening on the hilt of their sword. “Don’t you have better things to do than parade around looking like some backstreet mugger?”
“Of course, but I’ll always make time for you.”
The villain gave a cold smile. “I didn’t know you cared. I’m flattered,” they said. They took a step closer and another bullet went singing past their head. The villain swore, fury twisting their face into something monstrous. The villain drew their sword and the smile on the hero’s face made the villain’s blood boil. The villain wasn’t some common thief the hero could bully into submission, and they were tired of being the hero’s source of entertainment. The hero could waste their own time all they wanted, but the villain had better things to do.
The villain gave a lazy twist of their wrist, the sword flashing silver in the moonlight as it made a deadly arc. The hero forgot sometimes, who it was they were dealing with. The villain gave a small smile. It was time to remind them.
There was a flash as the hero’s gun fired again. The bullet never reached its destination. The villain’s sword flicked out, fast as lighting, fast as death, and there was a metallic ping as the bullet sat sizzling on the ground, sliced neatly in two. The villain looked towards the hero and gave them a smile that promised nothing but violence. “Let’s see how close I get,” they said.
The hero gave a wolfish smile in return, everything about them a wild and terrible beauty that set the villain’s heart singing. The villain loved it when it was just the two of them like this: The singing of the villain’s sword, the sharp crack of the hero’s gun, the inevitability that the villain would reach the hero. The space between them was just a formality, there was nothing on this earth that could stop the villain when they didn’t want to be stopped. Sometimes the villain thought the hero was testing that. Testing the villain’s resolve. Testing if they would still walk to them.
Always, the villain knew. Always.
The villain closed the finals steps toward the hero and then their sword was pointed at the hero’s heart, the gun out of bullets, the villain out of patience. The villain gave a wicked smile and said, “Got you.”
The hero scowled. “One of these days you’re not going to be fast enough, and then where will you be?”
The villain gave a careless shrug. “Probably dead.” The thought didn’t concern the villian much, either their super speed was enough or it wasn’t their problem anymore.
The hero opened their mouth to say something, but the villain cut them off, eyes narrowed at a scratch on the hero’s arm. “Where did you get that?”
If the hero noticed the danger in the villain’s tone, they didn’t say anything. Because of course they wouldn’t. Because the hero never cared about how dangerous something was, because they were too sure of themselves, too reckless, too brave for their own good. Too much the hero.
“You’re not the only villain in town.” The words made something in the villain go cold.
Another villain had hurt their hero.
Another villain had hurt what was theirs.
The villain clenched their fists, their anger so raw and hot it was almost suffocating.It vibrated through the villain, an insistent thrum that demanded action, demanded retribution. The villain didn’t know what to do with it. There was nothing for them to take it out on, nothing around them to destroy except for the hero and–no. The villain wouldn’t touch the hero. Even the thought made the villain nauseous.
The hero was theirs. Theirs to bicker with. Theirs to fight. Theirs to protect.
And another villain had hurt them. The villain knew what to do with their anger. They were going to find whoever had hurt their hero and make them pay.
The villain sheathed their sword, their anger rolling around them like stormclouds, dark and threatening and terrible.
The hero took one look at the villain and shoved them in the chest. The villain went reeling back, caught off guard enough their anger faded at once, gave way to confusion. The villain didn’t even have time to process what happened before the hero was there, all righteous indignation and fury, their power rolling around them in crackling waves that made the villain step back. “Don’t you dare,” the hero hissed. “You don’t get to hunt them down like I can’t take care of myself. I’m a hero, and I’m sick of you second guessing me. Do you understand that? I fight villains as my day job and I’m sick of you deciding you have to step in every time I get a scratch. You are not my keeper, and the next time you pull some bullshit like this again, I’ll put a bullet in you for real.”
The hero’s chest was heaving, some of the fight draining from them though as they finished their speech.
The villain just stared. They knew the hero didn’t like it when they stepped in, but they had never been angry like this. It had always been an annoyed sort of I wish you wouldn’t that the villain found endearing. The villain didn’t know what to do when they were on the receiving end of the hero’s agner. It made something in the villain shrink, become small and vulnerable and unsure. It made the villain scared.
The thought made the villain pause. They were not scared of the hero hurting them, they knew with certainty that had nothing to do with their super speed the hero posed no harm to the villain. The thought sunk through the villain’s mind like a stone through water though, heavy and insistent, and the villain realized they were scared of what would happen if the hero left. If they left you, a voice hissed at them.
The villain’s stomache twisted, the anger that had threatened to suffocate them from before gone. Replaced with this quesy doubt that made the villain take a step back, made their hands go slack. “Ok,” was all they could think to say.
It seemed to be enough. The hero gave them a final sharp look and then retreated. They were still annoyed, the villain could read it in the sharp line of their shoulders, their pinched brow, a million little tells the villain had identified and categorized. Each one filed away with a satisfied, mine. The hero didn’t feel like theirs right now though.
The hero’s power was still spreading through the alley, but it was different now. It didn’t snap at the villain’s heels like it did when the hero was angry at the villain, it was circling the hero, a protective ring that snarled and growled and snapped at anything that got too close. Whatever the hero was thinking of, it made them nervous. The thought made the hero’s anger make sense. They got mean when they were nervous.
The villain’s hackles raised, but they made themselves stand still, give the hero the space to sort it out. If the hero was still there, it meant they needed the villain for something. It had to be truly bad to make the hero this on edge, the villain thought. They didn’t offer comfort though, the hero was theirs, but they were still capable. Still powerful. They didn’t need coddling right now, they needed the villain to be what they were best at.They needed the villain to be the villain.
So the villain summoned a lazy smile, their posture relaxing into something casual as they taunted, “Something on your mind, darling?”
The hero gave them a sharp look that clearly said, not the time. The villain only smiled wider. The hero stared at them for a moment longer before they gave an annoyed sigh and admitted, “I need your help.”
The villain’s smile turned feline. “Oh?”
The hero scowled at them. “Don’t make me regret this.” The villain kept silent and settled back against the wall, an eye brow raised expectantly. Then the hero said, “Balor is coming,” and the villain stopped smiling.
The name clanged through the villain. Balor. Balor. Balor. The villain dragged a hand through their hair. “Shit,” they said. The hero looked inclined to agree. The villain was good at what they did, but Balor was the boogey man under the bed. He was the monster in the closet, the feeling of dread when you walked home alone and he was coming here. “I suppose you mean to fight them,” the villain said numbly.
The hero squared their shoulders, lifted their chin. “Someone has to.” Their shoulders curved in slightly, and they admitted, “Only, I would prefer not to do it alone.”
“And you thought of me.” The villain gave a cheshire smile, no small amount of sarcasm in it. “I’m touched.” The hero didn’t say anything and the villain resisted the urge to sigh. “You realize,” they drawled, “this is going to get us killed.”
“It’s two against one, we have a chance.”
“We have a better chance than the civilians,” the hero amended. “We have power, we have training, and we have each other.” The hero gave a nervous smile. “That seems pretty good to me.”
The villain lifted their head off the wall to look at the hero. “We have each other, huh? Careful, dearest, someone might start to think you like me.” It wasn’t what the villain meant. Not truly. What they meant to say was: don’t make promises in the dark that you won’t mean in the morning. Don’t give me hope to take it away. Don’t just say that because you’re scared, because I want you to want me when this is all over. I want you to want me. But that was too much for the space between them, and the villain couldn’t find it in themselves to take a single step back, so they said nothing at all.
The hero was still watching them, their anger and nerves gone, replaced with something the villain couldn’t read. It was a look the villain had seem on them before, but it was always there and gone before the villain could truly be sure it was there at all.
The villain looked the hero over, trying to find what had brought about the change. They had holstered their gun at some point. The villain hadn’t even noticed. But the villain certainly took notice when the hero crossed the space between them and dragged them in for a kiss. There suddenly wasn’t enough air in the world, everything in the villain short circuiting as they kissed the hero back like it was their last chance. In a way, the villain thought, it was. But the kiss was too perfect for thoughts like that, so the villain just pulled the hero closer, kissed them harder, and when they broke away the villain was smiling so wide they thought it might split their face in two.
“Guess you really do like me.”
“I’ll still shoot you.”
The villain snorted. “Because you’ve had such great success with that in the past.” The hero gave a miffed sniff and the villain grinned, leaning down to kiss the hero’s frown away. “I’m counting on it, darling. You wouldn’t be you if you didn’t at least try.” The hero smiled at them, a soft, pleased smile that the villain had never seen before and suddenly Balos didn’t seem so bad. Not if they had each other. Because even as everything in the villain screamed this was a bad idea, they had no chance, they should cut their losses and run, the villain knew they would be by the hero’s side when the time came. Because the hero would never run, the hero would face Balos even if it killed them, and the villain wouldn’t let them do it alone. The hero was theirs, and if Balos wanted to hurt them, they would have to go through the villain first.
So the villain smiled in such a way they knew the hero would roll their eyes, and said, “Let’s see how close we get.”