“Don’t cry, my darling,” murmurs the villain lovingly “There’s no reason for you to make such a pitiful face.”

“You don’t have to do this,” whispers the hero, eyes locked on the tray of blades sitting next to the villain “[Villain], you don’t have to-”

“Shh, darling. This is for your own good.”


“We’ll be alright. We have to go to the soundless sea, to meet the sirens there. And the forest of our ancestors- we need to go to the waterfalls and bathe in the springs. We have so much left to see, beloved, so we will be alright. We will be fine.”

“Yeah,” xe croaks, touching the face of xir lover with a blood coated hand “You’ve got a lot left to do. But I don’t think I’m going to be able to come.”

“You’ll be fine! It will only take us another few days to reach the witch. Ze will help us. And you’ll heal! Just hold on!”

“Hey,” comes an unfamiliar voice “Don’t move. I haven’t finished healing you yet.”

Xe wants to ask what’s going on, but xir tongue is thick as led and the slightest flex of xir jaw sends pain ricocheting around xir skull. Xe must make some kind of noise, because the stranger hushes xir soothingly.

A brush of something against xir cheek and the pain melts away with a soft light.

“Easy,” soothes the stranger “You’re going to be okay. I’m trying to help you. Do you remember what happened?”

Does xe-

Don’t you know you belong to me, now.

Xe remembers. Oh god- xe remembers-

“I didn’t do this.” says the vigilante, coming up behind the hero “Shit, I don’t think I have the stomach for that, even if it came to mind.”

“I know. You’re brutal but you never cross over into…” the hero looks up “You’d never do something like this.”

The body of the mayor swung listlessly from where it hung from the flagpole. Xir lungs had been pulled out through xir back and there were ropes of intestines dangling from where xir belly must have been cut.

“Xe was an ass. But xe didn’t deserve that.”

“I don’t know,” says the vigilante “if xe was dead first, maybe. Mutilating the body is gross but not like, twisted. But live… No. No one deserves that. It’s kinda of sweet though, in a twisted way.”


“It’s a love letter, [Hero]. To you- you’re [Villain]’s angel, aren’t you? That’s what ze calls you?”

“Do you know,” starts the villain, pressing the hero more firmly into the cold edge of xir very own damn countertop- how ze knows where the hero lives is beyond xir- “how many bones the average adult human has? 206.”

“So?” xe groans out, pushing back against the villain “What do. You. Want. You’re hurting me.”

“206 bones.” ze continues “So I can ask you 206 times. What have you done with my lover?”

“I don’t know what-” xe breaks off with a startled gasp, pain thundering through xir body with a sharp crack as [villain] snapped a bone in xir forearm.

“I’m going to ask you. Again. Don’t piss me off. Where is ey?”

Xe chokes. The pain in unimaginable, every twitch of xir torso jostling the thin bars spearing xir still. Ze was careful while inserting them, using a paralytic to make sure xe didn’t accidentally panic and cause zir to do damage- these were meant to restrain, not kill.

It would be better if they were.

Ze, whoever ze is, grins down at xir, laying a tattoo stencil in between the struts. Not for ink, though, no, ze’s already laid out a tray of scalpels.

“Now,” ze grins “I know you must be confused. This is a test of your endurance.”