Superhero Romance by Agustin Guerrero
The first time we touched, sparks flew. I had charged toward you wielding a bloodied baseball bat; you raised a fist crackling with electricity and punched me through the nearest wall. Dust and debris fell around us as I looked up into your glowing blue eyes. The mask obscured the rest of your face, but I saw through it immediately. I could see your chiseled jaw, your rugged stubble, your handsome nose. I guess I fell for you in that moment. I pulled a knife out of my boot and stabbed it hard into your calf. You didn’t even cry out. You stomped my arm with enough force to break bone. I could feel the shattered humerus knitting itself together beneath my skin. I grinned up at you and rolled to my feet. I wanted to tell you how I felt, but that just wasn’t the time. I threw some of the dust from the shattered drywall into your eyes and fled.
Our second encounter was a little bit more romantic. I had dressed the scene: the bodies of six couples placed at tables around the restaurant and the hands and feet of the head chef cooking in the kitchen. I had even gone through the trouble of rigging the piano to blow if the pianist stopped playing. I waited for you in the center of the dance floor, hands clasped behind my back. My purple beard was neatly trimmed and dyed to match my domino mask. I looked around at everything I had built. It was a scene from a dream. I absorbed the moment and thought nothing could ever be more beautiful than this. Then you dropped in and I was proven wrong.
The room seemed to shift as you crashed through the skylight. The shattered panes of glass reflected the candlelight, giving you the appearance of a dark angel. Blue lightning cascaded around you as you floated gracefully to the floor. I smiled and opened my arms.
“Care for a dance, darling?” I asked. You didn’t bother to answer me, but let out a cry and raced toward me. I stood ready to embrace you. The lightning shot out of your fists and hit me squarely in the chest, knocking me back into one of the tables. My white suit was charred black where the bolt had struck. I felt my heart stop, physically and emotionally. My healing factor kicked in, and my broken heart was mended. I sprang back to my feet and pulled out an extendable baton.
“I would have preferred a slow dance, but I love that you brought back the Electric Slide.” I quipped before walking toward you. The blue lightning had died down around you and I could see now the brown eyes kept hidden from the world. I could see your pain, your anger, and something else. Was it love for me? I smiled wide before swinging the club at your face. You caught it easily and sent a bolt of electricity through it and me. I fell to my knees in front of you.
“You make me weak at the knees, big boy,” I said. You looked down at me, disgust masking the attraction you felt.
“Who are you? Why have you done this?” You asked. This was the first time I heard your voice. It sounded to me as though a chorus of angels had come down and immediately been struck by lightning and fried to a crisp, ashy voice.
“Why, to impress you of course. I arrived early to set the mood. My name is Sanat, but you can call me anything you’d like, cuddlebuns.” Your eyes betrayed how flattered you felt. You tried to hide it behind your anger, but I could see through it. I leaned back and headbutted you directly in the crotch. You let out a grunt of pain and stumbled away. I stood and dusted myself off.
“Now, your name is Deathflash. Everybody knows who you are. But who are you under that mask, gorgeous?” I asked. You let loose a bolt of electricity that sent me flying across the room and into the pianist’s bench. He let out a cry as he fell, flailing his arms in an attempt to keep playing notes. The pain in your groin must have been overridden by adrenaline because you came after me. I blew you a kiss as the piano blew us apart.
I stayed away from you for a few weeks after that incident. I had to plan something special for our third date. I saw you on the news nightly, always frying criminals and saving damsels. I could tell your heart wasn’t with the ladies. As they gushed with appreciation your eyes kept looking toward the horizon. I knew you were looking for me. Absence was making the heart grow fonder. So I planned and plotted and schemed. I robbed a couple of banks for funds, though I made sure to kill all the witnesses for fear you’d arrive early and ruin everything. You have a knack for spoiling surprises.
I toiled endlessly and finally came up with the perfect spot for romance: an old warehouse on the docks. It looked a little shabby on the outside, but on the inside, I had filled it with a number of gifts. On the following Thursday, your least busy night I’d found, I proceeded to take the mayor and his family to the warehouse to witness our ceremony. We waited at the altar, all of us shaking with eagerness. I wore my charred white suit with a veil and held our dear mayor’s daughter at gunpoint. When I felt that charge in the air signaling your arrival, I hit the switch. The organ began to play our song as the doors blew open.
You were dressed in your usual black bodysuit, surrounded once more by a cyclone of blue lightning. As you glided toward us, I hit the second switch. Giant cannons rose from the pews and tracked you. You shot bolts at them as they fired. Gallons of water pumped out of the cannons and soaked you through. I heard you cry out as the vortex around you sparked and died. Now, I knew water was too obvious a weakness for you. Any thug armed with a squirt gun would be able to take you out. You rose from the puddles wet and dripping. The bodysuit seemed to cling even closer to your body. I could almost make out your package through the lower half. You rose and continued toward us. I hit the third switch.
You didn’t let out a sound as the floor fell away beneath you. You grabbed at the edge and barely caught it. Flames sizzled as water dripped from your body into the pit. You grunted with exertion as you pulled yourself up. The mayor moved to help you, and I cocked the revolver. He stopped and hung his head. You pulled your chest up over the lip of the pit, muscles flexing. I smiled as you rolled over the edge and back to solid ground. You looked up at me with those brown eyes set in determination. You stood and continued to stalk toward me. I wanted to run to you and throw myself into your sopping wet arms, but I showed some restraint. As you reached the steps to the altar, I hit the fourth and final switch.
The second step opened and sprayed liquid nitrogen on your legs, freezing them in place. The look of pain on your face was delicious. I threw off my veil and walked toward you, dragging the mayor’s daughter with me. You demanded I let her go. I smiled and shoved her back toward our family of witnesses.
“I do,” I told you as I stood in front of you. Your eyes sparked, but no lightning came out. I punched you in the mouth, just a love tap. Your head snapped back but your legs stayed glued to the ground.
“Let them go, Sanat,” you growled.
“I’d love to flashy, but unfortunately I don’t make the laws around these parts. See, we need a witness if we’re going to make this official.”
“You’re sick,” you replied. You struggled to free yourself, sparks flying around you.
“Yes, yes. Lovesick,” I answered. I hit you again. “Would it have killed you to wear a tie, darling? You’re making an honest man out of me today.”
You growled and continued to struggle. I knew how bad you wanted me. I aimed the revolver at the mayor. “Now get over here and officiate, monkey. I don’t have all night.”
The mayor quickly did as he was told. He opened his mouth to speak, but a look from you silenced him. The ground around us shook. It began to crack and blue lightning crackled through. With a roar, you let loose an electric storm. The energy hit us, and we flew apart. Why did you always put so much distance between us? You shot to your feet and hit me again and again with jagged bolts of energy. I couldn’t feel any of it; my body had died in the first storm. Your rage poured out onto my body and it made me happier than I’d ever felt. You finally let your fury die and went to the mayor and his family. Always trying to make me jealous. In the moment you checked to make sure I hadn’t harmed them, I slipped away.
Our final encounter happened the next night. I couldn’t wait any longer. It was a simple affair. I could tell fancy engagements weren’t your thing. I walked into the big park downtown just after sunset. I pulled out my remote detonator and squeezed the trigger. The sound of the courthouse exploding north of the park sent a shiver down my spine. I produced a second detonator and pulled the trigger. The police station to the south of the park went up in flames. I knew you’d be arriving soon, so I sat on a bench and waited. It wasn’t terribly long before the air crackled with energy. You landed in front of me and drew back a fist. I didn’t even attempt to dodge as you broke my nose.
You cocked your fist for another punch, not even bothering to use your electricity. As you threw it toward my face I opened my mouth. Your eyes widened as your fist struck the hypodermic needle I had nestled between my teeth. The needle punctured your skin as the force of the blow depressed the plunger against the roof of my mouth. Within seconds you were feeling the drug’s effects. You fell forward, and I caught you in my arms.
“Don’t worry, I’ve got you.” I whispered as you lapsed into unconsciousness.
“And that’s how we ended up here,” I say as my captive hero shakes his head. His hands and feet are bound to the chair, and I’ve put him in a full body suit made of rubber. Deathflash, powerless here in my lair.
“Why have you brought me here, Sanat? What do you want?” he asks. I’ve removed his mask, and I see his skin is crossed with scars. As I run my fingers along them, he pulls away sharply.
“All I want is to have a chance to talk to you, without playing these silly roles of hero and villain.”
“This isn’t a game, Sanat. You murdered those people tonight.”
“I had to get your attention somehow. Murder seems to be the best way. Can you blame me?”
“I do blame you, you freak. You’ve done nothing but cause my city pain.”
“You’ve done nothing but cause me heartache, Flashy. I see the way you look at me. We have a connection. All I want is one night. One night where you can allow yourself to feel something aside from anger.”
“There is nothing but anger,” he replies, but his words aren’t as certain as they have been.
“We’ve been doing this a little while, you and me. If there was only anger inside, you would have killed one of us by now.”
“I- I have to protect my city. They need me.”
“Your city doesn’t love you like I do. I’ve watched you on the television. Each night you go out, and you stop a crime or save a hapless citizen. Every evening you search for somebody to save because nobody can save you. You’re just a symbol to them. A blue bolt of lightning means the city can breathe easy. But what about the man under the mask? Nobody cares how he feels. I’m giving you the chance to tell someone what he wants.”
“I- I don’t know what I want.”
“Take a moment and think, lover. I’ll wait.”
Deathflash sits and stares off into the distance for a few moments. I watch him, absorbing every minute we share. Finally he looks at me.
“When night falls, I go out into this city. Sometimes I save a life. Sometimes I stop a robbery. At first, they rejoiced. The crime rate plummeted. I inspired real change in the city. Do you know how it feels to legitimately make a difference?”
“Everything I touch ends up a little different, Flashy.” I reach out and stroke his chest. “You know that.”
“You change things. I didn’t just change things. I inspired other people to stand up and better their lives. It’s different.” He looks down at my hand and I draw back.
“Sure, sure. But the city I see doesn’t look so different.”
“It was at first. But eventually, as with all things, people began to expect me to save them. It wasn’t an act of heroism anymore. It was a job. And like all jobs, you just want someone to appreciate your efforts.”
“I appreciate you. You make my nights far more interesting.”
He turns and looks at me. “Since you arrived on the scene, my nights have felt different. For the first time in a long while, I’ve been excited to put on the suit. I’ve been glad to go out and defend my city. Knowing you were out there somewhere gave me the drive I needed to keep going. The fire in my heart for justice was rekindled.”
“From the moment we met, it’s been impossible to stay away from you. You’re the only thing in this city worth staying for.”
“There’s something about you, Sanat. Something I’ve felt since that first night. You’re unparalleled. You embody everything I’ve sworn to fight against, but I feel… connected to you. Ever since I became Deathflash, I’ve been losing myself. The costume has been taking over, and the man inside has been fading. I feel like I’ve been looking for somebody to define me. After so long, I feel like you finally have.”
I can see the anger in his eyes is fading. I reach out and stroke his cheek. This time he doesn’t draw away. I can feel the lifetime of pain in his scars. I move forward and gently kiss him. His lips are soft and warm. I pull back and cut one of his arms free. I take his rubber-clad hand in mine.
“Just one night,” I say, “I want you to know me like I know you.”
We sit there all night, talking and discovering each other. I cut him free a few hours later knowing he wouldn’t hurt me. I invite him to stay with me tonight. He does.
Before he stirs, I’m gone. My one night is over and I don’t think he can afford to give me anymore time. When he awakes, he’ll have to resume the persona of Deathflash. I’ll be the enemy once more. Personally, I don’t feel like being electrified first thing this morning. I gather my essentials and leave. On the way out, I arm the bomb under the bed and set the timer for sixty minutes. He needs a bit more beauty sleep this morning.
He’ll wake up thinking I’ve betrayed him, but he’ll be wrong as usual. He won’t realize I’ve given him everything. Deathflash is my everything. He became my world the first night we met, the night when sparks flew and debris fell around us like fresh snow. By leaving, I’ve allowed him to continue being who he is. When I’m gone, the anger will return, and he’ll hunt for me. He’ll have a purpose.
The first time we touched, sparks flew. The next time we touch, who knows?
If you like this story and want to check out the anthology it was published in, you can do so here.