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Billy Higgins has written for a number of venues, among them The Psychedelic Journal of Time Travel and Scifaiku. He can probably be found at a Denny's near you, laughing too loudly and slipping liquor into his Coke when no one's looking. His South Florida supervillain web serial, A Bad Idea, can be found here: megapulp.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/a-bad-idea-1.

Blood. Sweat. Exhaustion.
I hate when he sees me like this.
"You're home," he says. He always looks different through the eyeholes in my mask: less like a person, more like a shadow.
"It's 3 AM," I say.
"Why are you up?"
"I was watching you on the news. You were good." He's sitting on the couch, holding a steaming cup of coffee.
This feels wrong, him so casual, me in costume. I walk over to him, but black leather constricts my movement, making me go slower. My gloves and shoulders are spiked, suggesting I don't want to be touched.
Problem is, I do.
"I want you to know that I'm proud of you," he says. "You saved the city, and that's something to be proud of."
I almost thank him, but the tone of his voice is wrong. I stand there, rubbing his shoulders, watching over him. I try working through the knots, but he won't relax. I hadn't noticed the specks of blood on my gloves until just now.
"I'm telling you that because I don't want you to think I don't love you. I don't want you to think I can't see how much good you're doing."
I take my hands off his shoulders. "Is this about the fight we had this morning?"
"Yes," he says, hand shaking as he sets down his cup, "and no."
"You two were just talking. I shouldn't have--"
"I saw you on the news," he says, getting off the couch, turning to confront me. "You were smiling. It wasn't big. I'm sure no one else noticed. But I know you. I know you enjoyed beating up Dark Angel."
"He was going to--"
"I'm glad you did it. I'm talking about the fact that you enjoyed it." There's something in his eyes. An emotion I can't quite place.
Lies won't work, so I tell the truth. "You're right. I like what I do."
"Why?" His voice is soft. He already knows the answer.
"It helps me to... It's an outlet. Helps me with my anger."
"And what happens if you don't have that outlet?" he asks.
"I'll always have it." My voice trembles.
"Even when you're fifty?" he asks. "Even if you're outlawed, or injured?"
"I'll always have the mask."
"I hope that's not true," he says, shaking his head. "God, I hope you can learn to let go."
"I don't need to. I do good work."
"But one day you'll get too old for it." His eyes look hollow. "When you punch a bad guy, do you ever see me?"
"No," I say. "I would never--"
"That's the outlet for your anger. Don't you ever get angry at me?"
I don't know what to say.
"I'm leaving," he says. "I'm sorry. I love you, and you do a lot of good in this world. But I have to go."
I realize I'm yelling.
I realize he's afraid.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

Author Comments

This story started with the desire to explore what a superhero's love life would really look like. Oftentimes fiction falls back on the cliches, but what if you really dated a superhero? Would all the good that they were doing really outweigh the probable anger issues?

- Billy Higgins
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