Yes, it's another story from your favourite author, absentmindedprofessor. Please review (assuming you read it). :)
Sense of Humanity
He was perfectly in tune with his senses. It was one of the reasons why he was an incomparable lover.
Tonight, in this roomful of people, however, his senses would be on the fritz, because it wasn't very easy to distinguish individual scents, voices, and sights from the hundreds of people in the ballroom. His sensing abilities would be vulnerable, and that was why her being here was an excellent opportunity. She knew he would aim to kill tonight. There was no turning back.
That was why she had to kill him.
Cecelia was dressed to the nines, clad in a nondescript black dress, so as to stay under the radar. He was across the room, as indescribably beautiful as always, impeccably charming in his tuxedo. She could see a little smile playing around his bow-shaped lips, his dark eyes scanning the room. It hurt her to be here, to have to finally end all of it. She still loved him, as heart-wrenchingly as she always had, but sometimes, the needs of the many outweighed the needs of the one.
Stephen had been sweet, charismatic and perfect in every sense of the word when she'd first met him. He'd taken her to an amusement park for their first date, and after much coaxing, he'd gotten her to ride the roller coaster and face her fear of heights. But said fear had been justified immensely when the seatbelt of her buggy had ripped off, throwing her off of the side of a three-hundred-foot drop, falling headfirst to the ground.
He'd come out of nowhere, his arms around her waist and his lips whispering soothingly into her ear. It wasn't until she'd relaxed and pulled away from him did she realize that they were hovering three hundred feet above the ground, with nothing to support them.
"You – you're a –"
"Flyer?" he'd grinned. "Yes. Well, partially. Flying's on my mother's side."
They lived in a world where everyone had superpowers, and the only question was whether one or two would be inherited. Most people only possessed one power, whether it was shape-shifting or healing or energy, but there were the few exceptions, those who wielded the power of two separate fields and were ultimately catapulted to a higher ranking of public appearance and power than others. Those people attended different schools than the Ones, took different paths to their careers, and led very different lives. Everyone was at least basically 'super', with their agility and longevity, but most were more than that.
Cecelia had been one of those people. She possessed the powers of elemental control – though, in this particular setting, where there was nothing more than desert and wind, she could do no more harm than a sandstorm – and sensing. For the past two months, she'd been all over the world, tracing this man through ice and fire, rain, snow and sun, following each and every of his exploits, his murders.
They had once been happy, when he was still good and she still optimistic about the future. But then his second power – his superhuman intelligence – had taken its toll. They'd been underneath a tree on a particularly cloudy day, and he had been telling her all about the mechanics of the engines of planes, when the burst of lightning had struck. If he had been mortal, like their ancestors, he would have died, but he didn't. Instead, the circuits that made him good were fried, and his brain was, as a result, hardwired for evil.
Cecelia supposed it could've had something to do with his parents – his mother's family were known Evils, those who wreaked havoc and caused destruction, taking the lives of many and sparing no emotion. Stephen had inherited his father's Good side, but it seemed that his mother's Evil had been waiting for the right moment to show itself.
He had left then, using his brilliant dual powers for Evil. It was bad enough, having one power and destroying life, but to have two was catastrophic. What made matters worse was Stephen's mind. He was never caught for his crimes, not only because of the brilliant, clever way he executed them, but because he was so good at hiding the fact that he was Evil at all. His parents were dead, murdered by himself, and the crime had been blamed on his mother's side of the family, the motive being that they finally snapped because their Evil daughter had married a Good man.
Cecelia knew the truth. She'd known everything, because even if he was evil, he still loved her. The difference now was that he wanted her to be Evil with him; instead of having the successful, beneficial-to-society future they'd planned on having together, he wanted to rule over the world with an iron fist and Cecelia at his side. It disgusted her. When she'd told him so, he'd used that brilliant mind of his to try and convince her of why it was good to be bad, but her moral integrities ruled over the entire argument. He'd left, and she was ashamed, for before he did, he'd taken one last night for himself.
Stephen had covered his tracks well – no one believed her when she told him of what she knew. He had everyone convinced that he was the recluse son, grieving over the deaths of his poor parents, still Good despite the Evil that had destroyed his family. Cecelia could do nothing, short of hunting him down herself. And that was what she had been doing for the past few months.
There were at least four hundred people in this room, Cecelia observed, and all of them were Good. This was a charity benefit, undertaken for those who had unfortunately inherited no powers from their parents and were unable to contribute to society. The premise was real and genuine, and that was probably why Stephen had made it his target tonight.
She'd followed him to a hotel room he'd rented for the night, waiting until he left and then raiding it with some useful old-world pins and clips. She found the invitation first, sitting on the bed, ripped and torn from where it had obviously been taken from the real invitee, whose blood was spotted over the name of the host. She imagined Stephen fixing his tie, looking at himself in the mirror with a sneaky little smile, thinking about all the people he was going to kill.
Not if she killed him first.
She tried to imagine how he would do it – perhaps he would poison the drinks, or put something in the food. Maybe he wouldn't be subtle at all and instead blow up the place with a carefully positioned explosive, or open fire on all the attendees. There was no telling what his brilliant mind would dream up, now that it wasn't shooting for good. It was Evil, through and through.
Cecelia kept her eyes on Stephen as she moved through the crowd, offering tight smiles to those who met her eyes and introducing herself as Molly May to anyone who asked. She figured he was probably using a fake name, as well. It was a good thing this was a cocktail party and not a sit-down dinner, because there would be no way of explaining why she didn't have a seat.
Stephen suddenly switched directions, turning back to the exit in a stiff, jerky movement. Cecelia was caught off-guard for a moment, but recovered quickly enough to follow him out. He stood on the steps in front of the ballroom, lighting a cigarette with the practiced air of a debutant. She was careful to stay just out of his field of vision, watching the smoke curl in the chilly night air. Goosebumps erupted on her skin, but she ignored them.
"You don't have to hide from me," she heard him say teasingly. She stiffened when he turned around, smiling at her in the sexy, irresistible way he had when they first started dating. He tossed the cigarette onto the ground, rubbing it out with his foot, watching her with a tilt to his head. He approached her, his smile still intact, his walk confident and self-assured.
"You always were terrible at sneaking around," he murmured, pausing right in front of her. He'd only been a few inches taller than her, and now that she was wearing heels, they were almost the same height. But despite their similarity in size, he had always seemed bigger to her. Her lipsticked mouth twisted into a frown.
"You're going to kill all those people, aren't you?" she asked of him. He nodded, not even bothering to deny it. "Why?"
"Why not? Why have the authorities not caught on to the fact that I'm responsible for at least half of the murders they think are committed by other people?" he questioned. "Why, despite all of your attempts at stopping me, have I not killed you?" He placed a hand on the wall behind her, his body mere centimetres from hers. She shifted back, uncomfortable with the fact that she still enjoyed the close proximity of his body to hers.
"I don't know," said Cecelia, her black curls blowing in her face. "But I plan on stopping you again."
"You've never stopped me before, darling," he said softly, brushing the hair out of her eyes. "You were simply a small obstacle."
"Well, this obstacle is about to become a full-on dead end!" countered Cecelia.
"How do you plan on stopping me," he whispered, clearly not as interested in the conversation as he was in touching her, "if you don't even know how I'm going to do it?" He stepped in closer, his hips brushing hers, and Cecelia had had enough. She slipped out from underneath his arm, backing away into the open air.
"Why are you doing this?" she demanded. "Why are you trying to seduce me? You're Evil!"
"Yes," said Stephen, stepping away from the wall and coming closer to her, "but that doesn't mean I don't love you."
"How can you love me and still be Evil?"
"Because love knows no bounds," he grinned. When Stephen grinned like that, he looked more like a little boy than a sadistic serial killer.
"Spare me the corn," Cecelia said dryly, turning back to go inside. Stephen's hand was on her arm before she could get very far.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," he said huskily.
"Why not?" she threw off his hand.
"Because the door is locked."
"No, it's still –" But she cut herself off when she rattled the doorknob and it didn't click open. With murderous eyes, Cecelia turned back to Stephen. "You –"
He smiled. "I what?"
"You locked those people in there –"
"Actually, the door locks by itself."
"What did you do?" Cecelia demanded, panic beginning to rise up inside of her.
"There's a viewing balcony," said Stephen, "above the ballroom, with clear-as-day glass as a barrier. Want to come with me?"
"And do what?" Cecelia spat. "Watch innocent people die?"
"Oh, I'm sure they're not as innocent as you think," Stephen grinned. He took her hand, but she shook it off.
"Don't touch me," she warned.
"Oh, I plan on doing more than touch you when we're up there," he winked. She was torn between wanting to claw his eyes out and wanting to melt into a happy little puddle. Damn him for exploiting her weaknesses and damn her for still loving that murdering bastard.
"I'll go with you," Cecelia said finally, "if you tell me what's going to happen to them."
"I'll tell you," he murmured, "If you come with me."
They stood in silence for a minute, Stephen casually slipping his hands in his pockets, and Cecelia irritated and tense. "Fine," she bit out. "Let's go."
From the viewing panel, Cecelia could see the entire ballroom. Frantically, she looked around, trying to determine exactly how Stephen was planning to kill all these people. It couldn't be an explosion; otherwise, they wouldn't be standing here. This area they were standing in, however, was more like an attic than somewhere to look down at the festivities. The floorboards creaked, the windows were dusty and yellowed, and because it was night, the whole room was dark. The only light came from the ballroom just beneath them.
She couldn't see Stephen, and that frightened her.
"Gorgeous, isn't it?" came a whisper. Then, she felt the body, hands first around her hips, and followed closely by a warm chest, pelvis, and upper thighs. She tensed when she felt the most prominent part of his anatomy against her behind, willing herself not to fall for his charms.
"Get away from me," she muttered, shifting to a different area of the glass. Under her feet, she felt something wet and slippery, but dismissed it as some ancient liquid. She could imagine Stephen frowning in annoyance, but obviously not giving up on trying to seduce her. "You promised to tell me what you're going to do."
"I did," he allowed, "but there's a bit of a snag."
"Oh, no," said Cecelia hotly. "I'm not having sex with you."
His face was only half-lit, but from what she could see, he was smirking. "Then you'll remain in the dark."
She stood silently, stewing about his lies and fake promises. She kept forgetting he was now an evil and manipulative arsehole, and he kept taking advantage of that.
Cecelia knew that with a mind like his, Stephen was capable of coming up with any number of simple or complex plans to murder these people. And she knew that she only had a short amount of time to figure out what he was going to do. She scanned the room below her again, looking for anything out of the ordinary. She could see him watching her out of the corner of her eye, but she ignored it.
"I love watching you think," he said, leaning against the glass. "It turns me on."
"Then close your eyes," retorted Cecelia. "And stop trying to seduce me."
"Well, if you're behaving like that," he replied, "then it must be working." He moved closer to her, and she, in turn, shifted farther from him.
"Why did you lock the doors?" Cecelia asked instead.
"To keep the Goods inside, obviously." But it deterred him momentarily.
"That means you're planning on picking them off, or killing them slowly," Cecelia realized. "It's not going to be big, because we're standing here watching it."
He inclined his head, a smile tugging at his pink lips. "Very good, hothead."
"Fine, Mother Nature," he said instead. Both names were pet names for her during their relationship, and him bringing them up was both cruel and hurtful.
"Shut the hell up, Stephen," Cecelia muttered.
"Finally," he sighed. "You said my name."
"Don't get used to it, bastard," she bit back. "You have no idea of how much I want to kill you right now."
"Ah, but killing me would mean killing all those people, as well." He slipped a hand around her waist, but she was too absorbed in her thinking to do much about it. "And you wouldn't be able to live with yourself, would you?"
He was referring to his last kill, where Cecelia had stood helplessly as fifty people dropped through the thirty stories of an abandoned building and died instantly upon hitting the ground. It was a complicated plan, involving invitations to a made-up garden party, carefully hidden rigs, and tons of heavy cement. Stephen was particularly proud of that one, and watching the look on his beautiful ex-girlfriend's face only made it better.
He'd rather have her on his side, broken, than against him and passionate. At least she would be with him.
"Are you going to put some sort of wild animal in there and have it eat people?" she muttered, thinking aloud. He chuckled.
"No, but good idea. I'll keep it in mind for next time."
That particular comment struck a nerve. She suddenly had a knife out, pointed directly at his face. Stephen watched it, amused.
"There won't be a next time," she said through her teeth. "As soon as I find out what you're going to do, I'm going to kill you."
He backed away from her, however, admiring her profile once again.
For the next hour, Cecelia rattled off every scenario and hypothesis she could think of, and Stephen did nothing but grin, wink and appraise his ex-girlfriend with complete scrutiny. He'd loosened his tie, figuring he could use it to tie her down if need be. That fantasy was always one he found particularly arousing.
"You're going to change the temperature of the room, aren't you?" she asked suddenly, breaking into his thoughts. He felt his lips part in surprise when she uttered it. The pursed, triumphant look of her lips told him she'd seen it. "You're going to suffocate those people to death."
"That's my cue," said Stephen, disappearing into the darkness. Cecelia hurtled away from the glass viewing panel, snapping her fingers for a bit of light. The flame lit at the tip of her finger, providing her with enough light to see the wooden, rickety door. She opened it and ambled down the stairs, hoping that she'd catch him in time. But when she reached the bottom and unlocked the stupid cellar door, there was only a middle-aged couple having a conversation and drinking wine. Stephen was nowhere to be seen.
Then she realized. He could fly.
She swore to herself, earning disapproving looks from the couple, and hurried back up the stairs, the door locking automatically behind her. When she reached the top, lighting her finger again, she shouted Stephen's name, calling up toward the twelve-foot ceiling.
"I know you're up there, you sick, conniving bastard," she yelled, "so why don't you answer me?"
"I was wondering when you'd realize," came his voice, floating down from above. A soft thumping noise was heard on the landing, and suddenly Stephen's face materialized in the light of her makeshift candle. "I've always admired that trick," he said conversationally, pointing toward her finger. She extinguished the light. But not before she saw the little remote control he held in his hands.
"Is that the temperature control?" she asked. An arm wrapped around her waist, pulling her closely to him. Instead of whispering some breathy reply into her ear, Stephen's lips actually attached, kissing teasingly down the shell of her ear, tickling her neck with the tip of his tongue the way he used to. She melted when he touched that particular erogenous zone, forgetting almost entirely about the temperature control. Cecelia had forgotten how well-versed Stephen was in the language of her body.
A tiny whimper escaped her lips before she could begin to stifle it, and he chuckled amusedly in her ear, whispering about what dirty things he wanted to do to her in this dark space. But the sound of his voice, the reminder of what he now was, shocked her out of the mood she'd been put in. Cecelia shoved herself away from Stephen, lighting up the darkness again. He stood directly in front of her, an irritated look on his face. The remote was still in his hand, and he was clutching it tightly.
"Give it to me," said Cecelia.
"You'll have to fuck me first," said Stephen smoothly. She blinked when he used the swear word.
She threw herself at him, knocking him to the ground and knocking the control of his hands. Pinning him to the ground, and curiously managing to hold him, Cecelia reached for the remote, forgetting that her finger was still alight. As soon as her fingers touched the old-fashioned, wooden remote, it caught fire. It would've been a good thing if the remote wasn't lying on wooden floorboards – floorboards that were not covered in an ancient liquid, as Cecelia had presumed, but, from the faint smell of it, gasoline.
Stephen suddenly took her into his arms, hugging her tightly to him, his back against the blaze that was quickly approaching them.
"You – you –"
She finally realized why he was really here, why he really wanted to kill all these people. It had nothing to do with them, and everything to do with her.
"But – it wasn't –"
"I could invent ways to get off of your sensing radar," he murmured. "I could lose you very easily, you know. I could make it so you could never find me."
"You didn't –" she breathed.
"You're the most important thing in my life – that hasn't changed," said Stephen. "I don't give a fire breather's tongue about killing people."
"Then why –" But he shook his head, trailing his fingers through her dark hair and pulling her close to him, wrapping his legs around hers.
"I love you," he whispered, his lips covering hers for the last time.
A/N: I keep telling myself "hey, writer! You can't keep posting stories like this! You need to focus on school/extracurriculars/etc.!" But no. Forget plot bunnies, plot DRAGONS come in my room, breathing fire on all my homework and sheet music and growling at me to WRITE. So, here it is. I don't feel like doing a whole hero/villain fic, so I just did the last part. How tragic! :( Hope you enjoyed, though. Please review! (especially if you took the time to read this note!)
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