Heroics

Eve propped her boots on the coffee table and watched her employer go through another pass with his fencing foil. “You know, I’ve never really understood why you haven’t become a super hero.” He stopped in the middle of the lunge and he twisted to see if his bodyguard had grown two heads or started painting her nails neon pink. Eve leaned back, popped her gum and shrugged. “Don’t you have affection for the turn of the century culture? How could you miss the billionaire playboy geniuses running around in stylized suits? I mean, that fits your M.O.”

His confusion cleared and he laughed. It bothered her how much happier he sounded when he laughed. He took his mask off, grabbed a towel, and sat down on the ottoman as he toweled off his face. “I can think of three reasons.” He slung the towel around his neck. “It would be bad form for a super hero to rejoice if some asshole murdered his parents.”

“You wouldn’t rejoice.” Eve said.

His eyebrow rose in self mockery. “And even my faithful bodyguard is not completely sure of that.” He grabbed his bottle of water. “Even if I would not rejoice, I wouldn’t feel much. Relief maybe. But I’m hardly a child.”

“You know, there is that whole women in refrigerators trope.” Eve made a face. “That was insensitive, but it fits. I mean the-”

He wrenched the cap off his water bottle. “Yeah. I know what you mean.” He took a swig. Eve dropped her hand to her automatic. She should have known better than to push that button.

“And if I was a hero, I should be driven for justice, right? Everything wrong in the world I can fix. If only I’d been there, if only I’d known.” He shook his head. “Bull shit.” He stood and walked to the door of the room. “Even when pursuing justice, heroes have lines.” He turned his head to look at Eve. “You know I cross that line. You know I cross it without hesitation for her. Hell, you know I’ve crossed that line for less reason than her. That’s the second reason. I’m not the good guy.”

“A lot of heroes have flaws.” Eve took her boots off the table.

“What? Alcoholism? Pride? Rash action? Paranoia?” He laughed. Eve was being treated to a whole range this conversation, they just kept getting worse. He wiped his eyes. “So do a lot of villains, Eve.” He walked back to the ottoman and sat down. “Heroes find people, people with moral compasses, or innocence that they can believe in that pushes them back from the edge. Keep them believing there is something to save. I don’t want those people.”

“I’m hurt,” Eve said. She half smiled.

“We’re exes, still friends, and you’re my bodyguard.” He pointed his water at her. “And you have never talked me down from a stupid decision in my life.”

Eve put her hand out in a fencer’s move, acknowledging the hit. “I’m not sure anyone has that kind of power.”

“Exactly.” He took a last swallow of his water and screwed the cap back on. “But that isn’t the third reason.” He grabbed his gear and stood. “The third reason, aside from an aversion to thrilling heroics, is I don’t care what happens to the rest of the world. I don’t need to build myself a suit or a cave so that my enemies don’t know who I am, or so I can serve a greater purpose.” He lifted a shoulder and dropped it in a movement too nonchalant to be a simple shrug. “I’ll look after myself and my people. Maybe that makes me a half way decent guy. Maybe it doesn’t. But I sure as hell would never be a super hero. My ego couldn’t take the comparison.” He walked out. Eve sat a moment before following him.

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