Rain was too gentle a term for what the weather was doing, hero was soaked to the bone a few minutes into their patrol, the howling wind blew right through their uniform, they were shivering and miserable. What’s worse is that they had a job to do, Villain had been sighted downtown, and wherever that monster went there was pain and destruction to follow.
Hero made quick work of searching the downtown area, they didn’t want to be out in this storm any longer than they had to be, after an hour they had almost given up on finding Villain, maybe the sighting had been fake, or maybe they’d decided to hold off because of the rain, cause a little destruction another day instead.
Hero headed down one last alley, they were on the old side of town now, these alleys were still brick paved, the putrid scent of wet garbage back here was a wall of smell, hero crinkled up their nose in disgust, they turned to leave, as they did so, something caught their eye hunched in the corner by the dumpster.
It was Villain, smell forgotten hero crept close carefully, ready to attack at any moment, as they got closer to Villain’s crouched form they got the sense that something was wrong, Villain was breathing in shallow panting breathes, one arm wrapped around their middle their eyes were squeezed closed.
Hero was about to pounce on them to try and retrain them before Villain knew that they were even there, but then they saw the blood, it was splashed up against the bricks, pooling around Villain on the alleyway, oozing between Villain’s fingers.
Hero made a small surprised sound in their throat accidentally and Villain’s eyes shot open, for a moment all that shone in those normally self-assured mocking eyes was fear, raw and animal, then it was replaced by pained annoyance.
Hero suddenly felt cold.
Villain waved their bloody hand absently, “Get going, nothing to see..to see here,” they struggled to sit forward but didn’t manage to budge, they blanched and sunk back to the wall with a groan.
“What happened?” Hero exclaimed, suddenly finding his voice and ability to move again, he stepped closer, convinced that Villain was hurt far too badly for this to be a trap.
“Th-this?” Villain slurred, “This is what happens when you’re the bad guy, comes with the territory,” they glared at hero, “you think after a fight I’m magically cured?”
“Who did this to you?”
“It doesn’t matter, now get!” Villain sneered, baring bloody teeth, it reminded hero of a beaten dog, one that had to fight constantly to keep itself alive, hero felt his chest tighten.
“I can’t leave you like this,” hero said, they went to grab Villain and help them up but Villain flinched away from them violently, cowering in fear.
“I know you hate me…Just…Please…leave me alone…” Villain whimpers, turning away from hero’s hands as best they could.
“It’s not…Damn it Villain! Just stop and look at me!” Hero’s aggressive tone surprised themselves, they balled their hands into trembling fists at their sides, squeezing their eyes closed,“I want-” their voice broke and they swallowed convulsively feeling like their heart was ripping into burning pieces, when they spoke again their voice was gentler, a raspy whisper,”I want to help you, please let me help you.”
Villain was watching them carefully, even through the dirt and obvious pain their eyes were clear almost sharp, hero realized they were watching for hero to take it back, for the softness to go back to being an act something not real and controllable. Realizing this broke hero’s heart even more than they thought it was capable of breaking.
When hero didn’t take it back Villain shivered, their eyes darting nervously around trying to see some trap or sign of hero’s friends, when they didn’t their eyes snapped back to hero, “What…What then? Hmm?” They were trying to keep the breathless hope out of their voice, forcing a tired transparent sneer instead, “You get me somewhere…dark and then…then you..you turn me over? Keep me locked up? Torture me for the whereabouts of my people?” The rush of questions dazed them, they closed their eyes against the wooziness, their head dipping back to the bloody bricks, “M’tired of alla that,” they muttered dizzily.
Hero swallowed, trying to keep their voice steady they felt so useless, so angry, they wanted to say so many things, they wanted to threaten the agencies that had turned Villain into this, wanted to promise them that they wouldn’t do anything to them, that they were different, they wanted most of all to tell Villain that they wished that things were different, instead they settled on saying “I’m sorry that there are people who made you think that there are no good heroes left, and I’m sorry that I failed you.”
Villain opened their eyes at that, all pretenses gone they looked back at hero through the dripping rain with confusion on their face, maybe a little fear, this was uncharted territory after all, “h-how do you mean?” They asked, strength giving out, folding to the soaked ground, hero ached to catch them, but didn’t want to startle them further, they stepped forward slowly, crouching down at Villain’s side, putting a gentle hand on their forearm as they watched Villain struggle to keep their eyes from rolling into the back of their head.
“I’m a so-called hero, I save people, but I didn’t save you.”
Villain looked like they wanted to protest, they settled for pointing at themselves with a weak smirk, “notta person,” they slurred.
Hero smiled back at them and was surprised how much the joke hurt, like it was a piece of broken glass they’d swallowed, their face went back to seriousness, “Please,” they begged Villain, “Let me help you, I want to help you.”
“Caus it’s your job?” Villain guessed, trying in vain to muster up the strength to sit up, they only managed to wince and slide further to the ground.
“Because I want to.”
“Because you’re a good person?” Villain quipped, not quite sarcastically, they were out of options, literally backed into a wall, the gaping wound in their side wasn’t helping either.
“Because you’re worth saving,” hero stated simply, hero removed their glove, offering their now volurnable hand to Villain.
Villain looked up at them with a terrified form of gratitude, skin contact was the only way the Villain’s powers worked, hero was demonstrating good faith that Villain wound’t immediately kill them, never mind that Villain was too weak to muster any power right now, hero didn’t know that.
“C’mon, let it be over,” hero prompted gently as Villain stared at their hand transfixed, “It can just be over for today if you want, but just for now, let’s put this behind us, huh?”
Villain ripped their eyes off of hero’s hand, off of hero’s startling display of trust and genuine help when Villain was at their absolute weakest, when they would be so easy to stop permanently, to stomp into dust and rid the world of, “What about tomorrow?” Villain asked timidly, still not quite brave enough to trust hero like hero was trusting them.
Hero smiled almost bright enough to be the sun, Villain thought that in the dark of this alley it wouldn’t be hard to get them confused, “We’ll deal with tomorrow when we get there, not a second beforehand.”
Villain reached out and took hero’s hand, it was warm and smooth, larger than theirs, they shuddered at the contact, feeling small and defenseless, now that they’d decided to trust hero their fear borne strength was waning, their world started to tilt sickly around them, the pain became a thundering mess in their trembling nerves, they pitched forward leaning towards hero with the last of their strength.
Hero didn’t let them down, they caught them, gently lifting them, the last thing that Villain heard before finally giving in to unconsciousness was hero’s unwavering voice somewhere close to their ear, “I’ve got you buddy, I’ve got you.”
Then there was nothing.