Hullo, friends! Unlike some of the short stories I’ve posted recently, The Villain and the Hero is firmly planted in my usual genre: superhero. I had a lot of fun writing this one, and it was nice to get back to writing with superheroes after a little break for other projects. Enjoy!
I’m in love with a boy, and unfortunately, he hates my guts. I know that if he got to know me, he would begin to like me, I just know it! But there’s not much chance for small talk when he’s blasting fire in my direction.
I stand firm as fire blazes towards me, and I throw up a forcefield with one hand. It’s virtually invisible, but I can see the air shimmering slightly in front of me as I hold my hand over my head. With my other hand, I stuff the rest of the money from my latest robbery into the inside pocket of my long black trench coat. Torch’s fire hits my forcefield, reflecting off and shooting straight in the air. I hear him yell in frustration, and I drop my hand, letting the forcefield dissolve. I reach up and scratch around the black mask on my face. Paired with the dark wig, it hides my identity, but I can’t wait to take it off. Talk about itchy.
Torch stalks toward me, his anger and frustration clearly evident. Unlike my dark mask, his black one with flame details makes him look even more attractive. Then again, I’ve always liked guys with brown hair. “Give yourself up, Mirror!” he yells.
Okay, let’s be honest here for a second. I could easily win this fight. It’s as simple as throwing a bubble forcefield around him and making it shrink. Easy peasy, no more Torch. That’s the dumb part about having a crush on your superhero. You tend to go easy on them, even if you’d be better off getting rid of them.
Then again, I’m just stealing from overly rich corporations to pay off student loans, and killing someone wouldn’t help with that anyway.
I put my hands in the air slowly, in a show of surrender, eyeing the distance between the two of us. “You win, Torch. Take me to jail.” The air shivers ever so slightly between us, and I grin. “Or you could take me to dinner instead.”
Torch looks at me suspiciously and rolls his eyes, but he walks towards me. After two steps, he smacks into my invisible forcefield. He yelps and steps back, rubbing his head and glaring at me.
I shake with laughter, letting out a snort on accident. Dang it, Alexis. Play it cool. I try my hardest to smother my laughter, but the glare on his face makes it really hard. Why does he have to be so cute when he’s annoyed? “Sorry, Torch!”
“That’s cold, you know!” he yells back, although I swear he’s hiding a smile. My smile fades when he calls me cold, though.
I throw a disk forcefield on the ground in front of me and step onto it. The other forcefield dissolves automatically. Only being able to make one forcefield is one of my weaknesses that no one has figured out. Not yet, at least. I crouch down and salute Torch, winking. “Until next time, hot stuff.”
At my command, the forcefield raises slightly off the ground and takes off over the nearest building. The wind blows through my hair—at least, the hair on the wig—and I breathe deeply. The air smells of car exhaust and pollution. For a second, I miss the fresh country air from my childhood, but I shove down those memories. This is my home now, and I need to love every part of it. It’s not like the time I spent in the country was any better. Living with my mom was a nightmare.
I lower my forcefield, dodging in between buildings and down alleyways. I come to a stop and dissolve my forcefield, landing on the ground. No one’s around, so I ditch my costume and hide it in the usual spot. I let my long blond hair down and slip on my favorite sweatshirt. Back to my normal college student self.
It doesn’t take me long to make it back to school, and I unlock the door of my apartment. Some kind of Latin music fills the air, probably coming from the kitchen, while I can hear Riley yelling at a basketball game in the living room. I can’t even hear the door close behind me as I walk in.
Lucia does, though. She pokes her head out of the kitchen. “Alexis, amiga! You’re just in time for dinner. Everything’s almost ready.”
I sniff, inhaling the scent of Mexican spices. “Yum! I can’t wait.” I kick off my shoes by the door. “Have the neighbors complained about the noise yet?”
An unintelligible shriek of triumph rises for the living room, and Lucia winces. “Not yet, but I would not be surprised.”
She slips back into the kitchen, singing in Spanish along with the music. I cross into the living room to find Riley flopping back onto the couch, still in her running clothes. She glances up at me and then turns her focus back to her game. “How was your shopping trip?” she asks, reaching for a bag of chips.
I grab the chips before she can get them. “I didn’t get to do any shopping. Mirror and Torch were fighting right by the mall.” At her glare, I set the chips back down, just farther away from her. “Lucia says dinner is almost ready.”
A few minutes later, Lucia calls us into the kitchen. She always makes the most amazing food, and Saturday nights are sacred “Roommate Dinners” for the three of us. After dinner, we all hang out in the living room together, watching a show or talking about our lives. Tonight, we gather all of the junk food in our apartment and sprawl out in the living room. The fight with Torch is still lingering in my mind, and I glance at my two roommates. I love these girls, but if they ever found out about my secret identity, they would go crazy. At least I’m just a supervillain who steals, not one who kills people. I mean, I’ve hurt a few people, but I’ve never killed anyone. I’ve met some villains who are much worse than me.
We’re halfway through our show when Lucia gasps. “Oh my gosh!” Riley and I both turn to look at her in surprise, and she turns her phone around to show us. “Mira!”
A breaking news alert lights up her screen, with a picture of Torch, mid-fight with a supervillain that I immediately recognize. My stomach sinks. Riley snatches the remote and changes the channel to a news channel that’s covering the fight. The voiceover crackles with panic, sending a shiver down my spine.
“…no one knows what Glacier is doing in the city, but so far, she’s been giving Torch quite the beating…”
I tune out the voice on the TV, focusing on the footage. Even from the view of a helicopter, I can tell he’s tired. “Oh, he’s got this,” Riley says, popping a chip in her mouth. “She must be a nobody. I’ve never heard of her before.”
On the TV, Glacier shoots a blast of ice out of her hands, and Torch barely manages to dodge it. Glacier smirks up at the helicopter, and I feel like she’s staring into my soul with her icy gaze. Lucia winces. “I hope he’ll be alright.”
Riley switches the channel back to our show, but my hands are shaking now. What if something really bad happens to Torch? At least when I fight him, I go easy on him. He’s not going to be able to walk away from this fight. Glacier would never take it easy on him.
Before I can think about it, I’m standing up and heading to the front door. Lucia looks up from her phone. “Where are you going?”
I unlock the door. “I’m just going for a walk. I’ll see if the laundry room is open.”
She nods. “Just stay away from downtown. That’s where the fight is happening.”
I nod and smile. “Don’t worry, I’m not going that way at all.”
As soon as I get out of view of our apartment, that’s the exact direction I go. I run to my hiding spot and retrieve my costume, changing as quickly as I can. This is one of the many reasons I chose a trench coat for my costume, instead of some skintight outfit. It’s so much easier to put on. A forcefield materializes underneath my feet, and I zoom off in the direction of the fight.
The closer I get to downtown, the more unsure I feel of myself. What am I even going to do? Fight Glacier? I’m pretty sure I can fight her, yeah—I’ve improved a lot since the last time I fought her—but as soon as I defeat her, Torch is going to turn on me.
But I also can’t let her hurt him… or kill him.
Ugh, feelings are dumb.
I know I’m getting close to the fight because I start feeling blasts of heat and cold. I lower myself behind a building. I’m even more nervous now, but mostly because I feel more cold than heat in the air. I duck around a few corners and finally come across the fight. I immediately cringe. I’ve fought Torch enough times that I can tell he’s exhausted. His fire blasts are weak, barely reaching to Glacier.
Glacier is smirking at him, clearly toying with him. Her skin shimmers, coated in a frosty layer, and her long, dark blue dress sparkles with ice, too, glittering like stars set against a backdrop of night. Her dark hair, streaked with gray, sparkles with a layer of ice too. She looks like a queen, and I shudder at the sight of her. I could have ended up ruthless and cold, just like her.
I step out of the shadows, the wind from Glacier’s next blast of ice whipping my trench coat around my legs. Torch shoots a blast of fire at Glacier’s ice blast, melting it just before it could hit him. He’s almost done, and Glacier can tell. She starts to stalk towards him, just like he did when he was fighting me earlier.
Then she catches sight of me.
A smile slithers across her face, something sinister lurking behind it. “Hello, dear,” she calls out, her voice deeper from the cold air. “Don’t worry about this. I’m finishing the job you’ve never been able to handle.”
Torch glances in my direction just as I glance at him. Anger flashes across his face, but then it fades to nothing. He’s losing hope.
I’m in the middle right now, off to the side, not committed to either one of them. I look over at Glacier. “You’re a monster,” I whisper, my voice carrying on the breeze.
She shrugs and steps closer, towards me instead of Torch this time. “It took you long enough to figure that out.” With a quick flick of her wrist, she sends icicles shooting in my direction.
I know she expects me to put up a forcefield to block the icicles, but I don’t. I react instantly, swirling my hands in the air and then pushing towards her. A bubble forcefield surrounds her as I jump to the side. I feel the impact from one of the icicles, and cold spreads through my shoulder.
Glacier laughs and starts to walk toward me, but she runs into the forcefield. She reaches out and puts her hands on it, her smile fading as she realizes she’s completely trapped. I look at her, and she stares back at me, horror growing on her face. I hold up my hand, and she backs up, hitting the back of the bubble. “No!” she shrieks.
I slowly begin to close my hand into a fist, and bubble shrinks around her, and she panics, trying to make herself as small as possible. The bubble tightens more. I find myself shaking in anger as I glare at her. Out of nowhere, someone’s hand grabs the one I’m holding up. I turn to find Torch, his hand grasping mine.
“Don’t kill her,” he rasps, his voice weak. “You’re not like her. Don’t become her.”
I look at him in shock and then look back at Glacier. Fear covers her face as she sobs into her own skirt, curled up in the fetal position inside the forcefield. It’s barely big enough to fit her now. Horror floods my body, and I let my hand drop. The forcefield dissolves, but Glacier stays on the ground, still sobbing in terror.
Torch helps me to my feet, and cops descend on Glacier. He holds my arms, looking over me. “Are you okay?” he asks, looking at my face. I stare at him, surprised to see concern in his eyes.
“I’m fine.” I lean against a wall nearby, looking over at the icicle lodged in my shoulder.
Torch puts a hand on my arm and inspects the icicle in my shoulder. “Why would you do that?” he asks, searching my face as if he would find answers there. Ambulance sirens echo in the distance.
I look back at him and give him a weak smile. “You’re just trying to do your job. I knew she wouldn’t leave you alive.” I stare off as the police put power-eliminating cuffs on Glacier and push her in the back of a cop car. Relief and sadness tug at opposite sides of my heart. A whisper slips out of my lips, stolen away by the wind.
“I’m sorry, Mom.”