Lollipops and Pepper Spray

"Why are you helping me again?"

"Because you need it."

"That's not what I meant," Thirilight sighed, splaying his fingers against his forehead. "I meant, 'Why are you helping me kill another hero when you're a hero yourself?'"

"For one," Mortimer stated, brushing aside Howard as the vulture tried to preen his master's hair, "you are my friend. For another, I don't like him."

Thirilight looked hard at Mortimer for a long while. "You're helping me kill him because you don't like him."

"Yes."

"Are you sure you're a hero?"

"Are you sure you're a villain?" Mortimer smirked. "You seem awfully reluctant to kill an enemy."

"I'm not reluctant," Thirilight muttered, glowering at his friend. "It's just that this whole plan is ridiculous. What am I supposed to tell the others when they ask me about the plot that brought about his downfall? 'I bribed a kid with a lollipop to pepper spray a hero posing on the edge of a cliff, causing the hero to fall to his demise?!'"

"Shhh!" Mortimer hurriedly covered Thirilight's mouth, glancing around warily. Fortunately for the pair, the blond-haired, amber-eyed hero showed no signs of hearing Thirlight's outburst, so absorbed in his melancholic brooding was he.

Fairly sure that the hero would not be coming down upon them anytime soon, Mortimer removed his hand from Thirilight's mouth and sat back on his heels. "To answer your question, yes. Exactly that. I'm sure Gran Serena will be quite pleased. She's always adored creative plots, and this plot is the epitome of creativity, if I may be so humble." Mortimer stroked Howard's beak, very much pleased with himself.

Thirilight snorted and rolled his eyes. "You are anything but humble. In any case, I fail to see why I have to dress up like a woman."

"Because," Mortimer replied, matter-of-fact, "it would be very strange for a man to ask for help to secretly give a gift to another man. Besides, you look really good in a dress and makeup."

"…"

Mortimer raised an eyebrow and stared right back. "Well, you do," he stated, and Howard bobbed his head in agreement.

Thirilight sighed, closed his eyes, and splayed his fingers against his forehead.

The pair sat in wait for a long while, Howard happily preening Mortimer's hair. Finally, as the sun reached its highest point, a small figure became visible, skipping down the road bordering the copse and cliff.

"Thirry!" Mortimer elbowed his sleeping partner. "Here's your chance." As Thirilight blearily stumbled out of the copse, Mortimer hissed, "Don't forget the lollipop," tossing it after now mostly awake villain.

Thirilight managed to catch the lolly, and, as he began stumbling towards the road, Mortimer put his head in his hands and prayed that Thirry didn't botch things up.

Thirilight had just unsnagged the skirt from a thicket of brambles when the child, a little girl, skipped alongside. In a high falsetto, Thirilight beseeched the child, "Little girl, could you please help me?"

The little girl paused mid-skip and turned to face the villain. "Whatcha need help wiv?"

"Oh, bless your dear soul," Thirilight gushed, wincing internally. "I was hoping you could give that man," Thirilight pointed at the silhouette of the hero standing on the cliff's edge, cape fluttering about dramatically, "a present from me?"

"Why cantcha just give it ta him yerself?" the little girl asked, staring at Thirilight like he was stupid.

Thirilight flushed bright red with embarrassment, tears of humiliation growing at the corners of his eyes. If this doesn't work, Mortimer, he though towards his friend, I am going to kill you in the most prolonged and painful ways possible. After a sobbing breath, Thirilight replied, "I would, but my skirt keeps snagging on these brambles."

The little girl looked at Thirilight as if he were beyond stupid and was about to suggest that he go around the brambles, but Thirilight interrupted.

"I'll give you a lollipop if you help me," he said, holding the lolly out in plain view. It was the size of the girl's face, impeccably wrapped in transparent foil and sealed with an emerald green ribbon.

The little girl looked between the lollipop and the hero's figure calculating whether or not it would worth her time. Eventually, the little girl reached out a hand for the lollipop, and a genuine smile of relief graced Thirilight's features.

"Bless you child," he said, handing the girl the lolly and bringing out a perfume bottle. "Now, I want you to get his attention and spray this into his face. It's very special perfume, and I don't want him to not smell it, okay?"

The little girl took the bottle with her free hand and asked, "What'm I supposed ta tell him when he axes who it's frum?"

Thirilight paused, thoughtful. "Tell him... Tell him it's from someone who's been watching him a while." With that, Thirilight quickly sprang up and began twirling down the road, singing, "Thank you, you blessed child! Thank you!" before disappearing around a bend.

Once he was certain the girl could no longer see him, Thirilight darted back to the copse where Mortimer was hidden and hunkered down to watch events unfold.

It didn't take long for the girl to reach the hero, but it took a while for her to get his attention. Eventually, she shifted the perfume bottle to the hand with the lollipop and tugged on the man's flapping cloak.

Mortimer and Thirilight were close enough to clearly see the man's confused expression as he was yanked out of his reverie. Quickly scanning the area, the hero's gaze settled on the little girl who had transferred the perfume bottle back to her free hand.

"Why hello there, little one? Is there something I can help you with?"

The little girl nodded before saying, "A really pretty lady wanted me ta give ya somefing."

As Mortimer's shoulders shook with silent laughter, Thirilight quietly punched his friend hard in the arm. Mortimer and Howard looked balefully at the glaring Thirilight before they all turned back to the scene before them.

"What kind of thing?" the hero asked, curious, his blond hair glinting like gold in the afternoon sun.

"Ya hafta come closer, first," the little girl said, motioning for the much taller hero to kneel.

The hero quickly, but gracefully, complied, bringing his faced down to perfect spritzing level. "Now, what's this present?"

The little girl held up the perfume bottle which glistened and glittered in the afternoon light. Carved out of sapphire and inlaid with silver filigree, the bottle was a beauty to behold and obviously very expensive.

"Why, that's a beauti– Argh!!! My eyes!!! They burn!!!" the hero cried, stumbling around blindly, clawing at his streaming occuli. The little girl watched on in bewildered horror. "My eyeeeee~s!!!" he wailed as he fell backwards over the cliff's edge, his screams fading away to silence as he fell out of hearing distance.

The little girl eventually snapped out of her stupor, and, after glancing around surreptitiously, tossed the perfume bottle over the edge of the cliff before running away from the scene of the crime. She kept the lollipop.

After the little girl was out of sight, Thirilight murmured, stunned, "It worked."

"I told you it would," Mortimer said smugly. Grinning wickedly, he added, "And it looks like you have a potential convert to the ways of villainy. Now, aren't you going to give me a celebratory hug?"

"… No."

Mortimer feigned shock. "No?" he pouted.

"No," Thirilight said before he stood up and began the long walk back to Highcliffe, Mortimer and following close behind.

And Howard ate well that night.


AN: This is a sort-of prequel to Book of Villainy with the as-of-yet unintroduced characters Mortimer and his vulture familiar Howard.

My main reaction while writing this was "o_O Mortimer, when did you decide to be gay? *shrugs* Oh well..."