The library was closed, yet that stupid superhero was standing in the middle of the place with a book on astrophysics. Astro-freaking-physics, the nerve of him. He only had eyes for the book, seemingly unaware of the assassin for hire perched on one of the shelves behind him. If X had brought his gun, it would’ve been a clear shot. After all, only one superhero could live through a bullet to the head and it certainly wasn’t the one with the nerd book. Sadly, X did not have his gun. Or his throwing knives. He would’ve been grateful for a chemical weapon at this point, but no, all the fun stuff was in the shop with Clara.
I’ll get your gun back to you within a week. She said.
Don’t worry, these upgrades are going to be great. She said.
Then she had to skip town to go to a wedding - or a funeral, X could never keep them straight - and she took the gun with her. X’s current arsenal consisted of a dagger that was a little too heavy to be thrown from such a distance, strawberry blast lip gloss from some mall kiosk, a rope, a box of Hello Kitty bandages, and Clara’s car keys, which was probably why she ran off with his gun. Although he was holding her car hostage because she took his throwing knives, which was why he didn’t have throwing knives with him. The circle of payback was eternal. X shook himself out of his thoughts and focused back in on the moron reading the science textbook below him.
“Nerd.” X hissed, unable to keep the word from bubbling out of his throat. The hero below looked up at the noise.
“Is someone here?”
X held his breath until the hero went back to his book. Once the coast was clear, X slipped off the shelf and ducked behind a rack of magazines. The only sound in the library was a clock ticking in the distance and the hero turning pages in his book. X pulled out his dagger, took a deep breath, and launched himself around the magazine rack, bringing his hand down to stab through the hero’s chest. A warm hand caught his wrist, not at all like he had been expecting from a guy reading a book in a cheap university library. The hero didn’t look too alarmed by the short assassin with a ceremonial dagger. In fact, he looked rather nonchalant about the whole situation.
“Sorry, but the library’s closed. You should come back in the morning.”
X did not zone out on the job. He didn’t spend half a minute staring into his targets’ eyes while they single handedly kept him from stabbing them to death in a library. He most certainly did not laugh when they said “I’m going to have to ask you to take that dagger outside too. I’ll get fired if the books get covered in blood.”
No, X did not do any of that. Except in this situation, where he did all three things in that order before kneeing the hero - whose name he probably should’ve learned, Clara was right when she said he wouldn’t get that far on pictures alone - in the gut and twisting his arm out of the hero’s hold.
“You’re not surprised by all this?” X asked, his wrist popping as he brought the dagger back for another try.
“I figured it was only a matter of time before my identity got into the wrong hands. Mr. Myers, CEO probably sold it to the highest bidder, right?”
“Hold on a second.” X let his arm fall, “Myers, where have I heard that name before… oh!”
Bob Myers, current head of some company called Pavo with a secret criminal background. News traveled fast in the circles X ran in, and he knew that Myers had caught and unmasked a superhero recently, but the hero escaped before any real damage was done and the pictures were stolen. Now, if only he could remember the hero’s name…
“Are you okay?” The hero in front of him asked, “You seem a little, um, off.”
“Hush, I’m thinking.” X scolded, as if he hadn’t been about to murder the hero in cold blood for a payment of sixty grand. The thought of the money latched onto X’s brain, and he raised his arm again.
“You seem conflicted. Maybe we could talk this out?”
X shivered at the war that was currently going on in his brain.
“Who, me? Conflicted? Nope, I’m just torn between killing you right now and getting the money or figuring out your name first.”
“My name’s Elijah.” The hero offered a hand to shake. X stared at it in disbelief until the hero lowered it, “My enemies call me Remix?”
“That’s it!” X let out a relieved sigh, “Whew, I don’t know why that was bothering me so much. Alright, nice meeting you, Remix. I’ll try to keep the blood off your nerd book, okay?”
“Woah, wait a second.” Remix or Elijah or whatever his name was held up his hands again, ready to pin X to the table if necessary.
“Can I at least ask who sent you?”
“That’s a good question.” X frowned but held the dagger steady, “Um… some guy with sixty grand to throw at poor street urchins?”
“Wait, you’re only getting sixty grand to bump me off?” Remix - it was easier to call him by his hero name - looked insulted.
“Do you have a problem with that amount?”
“Well, this is going to sound insane, but I thought it would be… more? Infinite Zero took down an assassin that was getting paid three hundred thousand dollars to kill her.”
“Zero is awesome.” X grinned, “She removed a villain from existence.”
“I mean, she kind of just kicked him into a void dimension-” Remix stopped with a sigh at X’s pout, “Yeah, okay, she removed him from existence.”
“All you can do is manipulate sound waves. That’s not worth more than fifty on an average day.” X waved his hand dismissively. Remix watched the knife cautiously, as one would if they were being threatened by X, who kept switching between murder mode and casual conversation.
“What’s your name?” Remix tried, not expecting a legitimate answer.
“Xavier.” X flashed an award winning smile, “I’d give you my business card, but you’ll be dead soon so it won’t matter.”
“That’s a nice name.”
“Aw, thanks! I chose it myself.” X’s grin fell, “Wait a second, you’re distracting me. Are we going to fight or are we going to keep flirting until this place opens?”
“We were flirting?”
X swung the dagger without warning, and Remix barely rolled out of the way in time. He brought his arms up to defend himself from the next blow, earning a scratch that Remix would definitely be feeling later. X may have not known who his target was beyond a face at first, but it was his job to know the capabilities of his targets to minimize the amount of evidence left behind. So when Remix stumbled back into a table, X was not surprised by the sudden confidence boost, or the fact that the squeak of fake wood on linoleum was getting louder and higher pitched.
“See, this isn’t fun.” X attempted to sweep the leg, only to get caught by Remix and have to jab him in the throat to get free.
“Zero wouldn’t do this to me.”
“Zero would’ve thrown you into a void dimension the second you opened your mouth.” Remix’s brow furrowed in concentration as he amplified the noises of the fight to near unbearable pitches. X would be lying if he said his brain wasn’t vibrating in his head from the ringing. That being said, X was a spectacular liar.
“Can you do me a favor and just drop now?” Remix asked, “If I go any louder and higher I think the windows will break.”
“Ah, that would be a problem. After all, blood on the nerd books and broken windows don’t paint a good picture for you.” X had forgone the dagger entirely at this point, reverting back to hand to hand combat. He ducked under a swing from Remix and managed to get him in the nose with an elbow. The noise stopped, and Remix fell back, clutching his face. X flipped the dagger and raised it above his head.
“No hard feelings, right Remix?”
“Wait! Hold on!” Remix peeked out from behind his arms, “Can we go back to flirting?”
X did not burst into laughter at that.
“So, is that a yes or a no?” Remix lowered his arms more, “Because if you’re only in this for the money, I’ll make sure you get it without killing me.”
“It’s not just the money, it’s about getting the job done.” X shuddered, “I can’t just leave in the middle of killing you. You’ll go to the cops, I’ll get arrested, and think of the image that gives me and my business. I’ll never get hired again.”
“What if I hire you not to kill me?”
“But is it morally acceptable?” X proposed, “Let’s discuss.”
Remix no longer had any idea what was going on. He had been studying for his astrophysics class, then an assassin with some sacrificial dagger jumped him, changing moods faster than a speed Enhanced, and now the assassin was trying to talk about the morals of being hired in the middle of a job.
“You are a contract killer.” Remix said, enunciating every word, “Do you know what morals are?”
“Excuse me, you’re the one who costs the city all that money in property damage. At least my job pays well and I don’t destroy everything that gets in my way.” X crossed his arms with a pout, “Besides, I’m pretty good at what I do. I’d be better if I had my gun, but I don’t think I’ll be seeing it for a long time.”
If he thought about it, the entire situation was Clara’s fault. If he had his gun, X would’ve been able to take down Remix without coming face to face with him, which was where all the problems began. He made a mental note to steal Clara’s laptop when he got back to their apartment.
“Are you sure you’re good at this? You seem to be… spacing out a lot.”
“Well I wouldn’t be if you hadn’t spoken to me first.” X stuck his tongue out then rethought it and sighed heavily, “How much are you offering?”
“Um…” Remix looked away, “Would a hundred work?”
“A hundred dollars.” Remix flinched, waiting for death by impalement.
“That’s not how bargaining works.” X noted, struggling to keep a steady tone, “But you’re funny, and you’re not that bad looking.”
X sheathed his dagger, “Tell you what, I won’t kill you, but in return you have to pay me back for all the money I just lost.”
“I’ll get you sixty thousand dollars!” Remix promised, scrambling for something else to add into the deal, “And I’ll let you live with me so if anyone comes for revenge I can fight them off!”
X’s brain went all blue screen of death, as Clara loved to call it. He could almost hear the dial up tone in his head as his neurons spontaneously gave one last burst before collapsing in on themselves.
“Asking me to move in on the first date?” His mouth was running without anything to stop it, “You’re pretty bold, my dear.”
“Wait, no I didn’t mean it like that- y-you don’t even have to, I’m sure you’ve got a very nice place with all your blood money- did I say blood money? I meant totally normal money that you got from doing your job!”
Great, now Remix was also losing neurons. This wasn’t good, X had to fix the situation.
“I needed to move out anyway.” He said with a shrug, “Clara stole my precious daughter.”
Those were not the right words to use.
“Who stole your WHAT?”
“My roommate Clara took my gun to a wedding. Or wait, maybe it was a funeral. She packed a lot of black clothes, didn’t she?” As X’s rambling dissolved into mutters about wedding culture, Remix started to regret his choices. The more X’s brain started to come back online, the more Remix felt like he was losing his grip on reality. Finally, X held out a hand to help Remix off the floor.
“Okay new roommate. I hope your fancy Board designated apartment has enough room for my weapons.”
“How do you know the Board bought me an apartment?”
Remix’s standing with the Board of Enhancements wasn’t well known. However, observant people had noticed certain heroes being almost familial with Remix, despite his status as a junior hero. The internet broke the day someone snapped a blurry picture of Quantum giving Remix a high five after they worked together to put out a hospital fire and get the patients to safety. Remix didn’t think X, who didn’t even know his name despite being hired to kill him, would know about all that.
“Well, you’re a self-proclaimed superhero, aren’t you?” X tilted his head, “Don’t they all have to go through the Board before they can legally do the whole hero thing?”
Remix stared at his would-be murderer turned roommate, “There is so much you don’t know, but I don’t know if I have the strength to teach you.”
“I need to call Clara.” X changed the subject, “Can I borrow your phone? I left mine at home.”
Remix wordlessly held out his phone, and X dialed a number by memory.
“Hey Clara, good news, I’m moving out! I got bought out by the target.”
“That’s great!” Clara declared, shouting over the din of the casino in the background, “Because I just lost our apartment lease to a man with a suspicious moustache!”
X turned to Remix, “Hey, can Clara move in too?”
Remix gave a thumbs up, eyes haunted.
“You can move in with the target too!”
“Great! See you soon!”
X hung up the phone, “Come on, we’ve got to get to my old place before it gets ransacked.”
He slung an arm around Remix’s shoulders, who protested weakly about needing to lock up and turn the lights out.
“You’ve got five minutes before I change my mind about our deal.” X threatened, the sweet smile on his face contrasting the dark undertones of his words. Remix launched himself at the lights, knocking over the magazine rack in the process. X watched him go, briefly pondering what would happen if his employer learned what happened.
“I’ll just kill my employer.” X muttered to no one in particular.
If only he had his gun. None of this would’ve happened.
Infinite Zero saw herself as an older sister figure to Remix. She wanted him on the Board more than any other junior hero, mostly because of their pizza bagel patrol tradition. Today, however, Zero wasn’t going to Remix’s apartment as Zero. She was going as plain old Mia Martinez to celebrate Elijah passing his astrophysics class. She knocked on the door and waited. There was a crash from inside the apartment, and the door was flung open. Elijah leaned in the doorway with an expression so nonchalant that it looked forced.
“Hey, Mia, how’s it going?”
Mia suspected something was up, but she trusted that if Elijah was in danger, he’d come to her. She held out a paper bag like an offering.
“I have brought you the gift of sandwiches. Congratulations, you’re one step closer to knowing more about the world than I do, and I’m the one who manipulates dimensional wormholes based on probability.”
“I feel like you have to keep telling me that so you don’t forget what you do.” Elijah’s smile looked less like someone was holding a knife to his back and more like he was conversing with a good friend, which he was so it made sense. Just when Mia was about to assume that he had been taken by surprise by her visit, there was another crashing noise from inside the apartment.
“What was that?” Mia tried to peer around Elijah, who firmly planted himself in the doorway to prevent that from happening.
“Nothing! Nothing, it’s all good! Come on, let’s go for a picnic!”
There was that barely concealed look of panic again. For a superhero, Elijah wore his heart proudly on his sleeve. Actually, forget just the sleeve, he wore his heart on every part of his clothing.
“What’s going on in there? Do you have friends over?”
“Um, sure, don’t mind them! Let’s go.”
He was about to start pushing Mia away from the apartment when Xavier appeared at his elbow.
“Clara’s taking your toaster apart for parts, but she told me to tell you she’s making you a new one so don’t worry.”
“Who is this?” Mia asked. She recognized the kid from somewhere, she was sure of it, but she couldn’t pinpoint where.”
“You remember how someone hired a hitman on you?” Elijah asked, misery creeping into his voice. Mia nodded wordlessly.
“Meet X, also known as Xavier. A hired gun that I bribed into not killing me by giving him and his friend a place to hide.”
Xavier held out his hand to shake, “Infinite Zero, I am a huge fan. Really, I wanted to be just like you when I was little. Of course, then I became an assassin which is kind of the opposite of you, but I’ve killed politicians in the past so I consider myself a hero.”
Mia stared blankly at the hand offered, nails painted a garish green and covered in hastily scribbled notes from markers and pens.
“Elijah, what the hell is going on here?”
“I think I made a mistake.”
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
This reminds me of Spiderman in the airport in Captain America. “ I don't know if you've been in a fight before, but there's usually not this much talking.”
In Elijah's case all he can really do is talk since he doesn't want to get fired from his job at the campus library. He's lucky Xavier didn't have a long range weapon and is just as willing to keep up a conversation. I've been creating a superhero multiverse of my own in a similar style to what we've been given with Marvel and DC stuff, so it's funny that my story reminds you of that scene. Thank you for reading!