So I confronted her. What else could I do?
“It was you!” I shouted. “You were the Villain the whole time.”
“Yes, but it was just to turn you on,” she replied.
I stopped. And I just stared at her.
“You did all that…you did all those things…you wreaked all that havoc…just so I would date you? What kind of messed-up, misshapen, twisted—”
“And it worked, you know,” she said. “You’ve always known. On some level, you have always known, and you’ve found it attractive.”
“I most certainly have not!” I said.
I could tell, by the look on her face, that I hadn’t convinced her, but that was fair. I hadn’t convinced myself. The Villain? The beast? The criminal? The lawbreaker, the unrepentant rogue who’d stood atop the highest building in Cityopolis and shouted defiance at the whole damn stupid smug, self-satisfied city?
That was reprehensible.
That was horrible.
That was so hot.
“So,” I said, trying to keep my voice level, “you did it all…for me?”
She nodded gravely. “I did.
I must have looked puzzled, because she continued. “It was all for you…or so I thought. At first. And then…it started to get to me. In all the wrong ways. The beautifully, beautifully wrong ways…” She gazed out the massive glass window of the penthouse suite, at the ruins of the once-proud municipality, far below.
I cut in, perhaps a bit too quickly. “So you thought I’d find it…desirable?”
She nodded. “That was my hope. At first, at least. That you would finally notice me! Oh, I couldn’t tell you the truth, couldn’t reveal it, not in front of the others, and perhaps not even if we were alone. But I thought you’d be able to tell that there was something different about me.”
I nodded. “You became more confident. You seemed to be taking some kind of new pleasure in the world around you. You were still fairly untalkative, but instead of being just a loner, you became…”
“I became someone with inner resources. Someone who was always thinking two steps ahead. Foiling the team, foiling my rivals, considering the next heist, covering every track, planting decoys. Oh, I didn’t do all of it all at once. I had to learn, and there were some fumbles in the beginning…”
“The bank job,” I filled in. Now it was her turn to give me the nod. “That was…unfortunate. Although it did rid me of a particularly annoying teammate.”
I should have been horrified, but, to be honest, I had never liked Maggie in the first place.
“…but I persisted. And, as you know, I was not simply a killer. I might have taken advantages of some of the team’s weaknesses, but I never really betrayed its spirit. The others were simply weak.”
“And I?” I asked.
“You were strong. And you were everything I wanted.”
My head was pounding with thoughts; it was an explosion in a fireworks factory.
“And what did you think would happen when I found out?” I demanded. “Did you think I’d still want you? Did you think you could win me over to your side? Do you think I’d ever agree to become complicit with…with…a criminal?”
“I had hoped,” she said.
Images overwhelmed my thoughts; of masks, of escapades, of piles of gold. And why not? Why not? What had working the other side of the street ever gotten any of us? Sure, having a traitor in our midst was part of it, but she was right: we had too many egos, we thought too highly of ourselves, we were never going to have been a more cohesive or effective team.
“I’m in,” I said.
She looked at me, and sighed.
“Ah, there’s the rub, and this is a bit awkward.
“Villainy is not a full-time job. Villainy is a way of life. I’ve realized that now. It’s everything I want. Everything. I don’t have time for love. I don’t have time for another. This is who I am, what I am. There’s nothing left for anyone else.”
* * *
Cityopolis gave me a medal for shooting the most dangerous villain this town had ever seen, but I told them, “I’m no hero. It’s just what anybody would have done, in my place.”
After the ceremony, at the celebration, a couple of shots and a few beers in, I quietly left my party and strode down the corridors of the mayoral mansion. There were guards posted here and there, but they let me through, of course. I made it to the Mayor’s office and let myself in.
“So,” I told her. “I hear that you’re corrupt.”
She choked and dropped her coffee-cup, right onto the stack of top-secret government papers.
“Because,” I continued, “I think this could be the start of something beautiful.”
My name is Jeff Mach (“Dark Lord” is optional) and I build communities, put on events, and make stories come into being. I also tweet a lot over @darklordjournal.