He found them on the rooftop of the revamped hotel, one of the commissioner’s many backdoor investments. To be truthful, he had prepared himself to find just another severed head and a ridiculous message scrawled in blood; but instead he found himself not being the slightest bit relieved seeing the man tied to a chair dangerously close to the ledge and she calmly waiting for him perched atop a ventilation box with her lover/lackey beside her.
“Took you long enough,” she greeted, not looking away from the view of the lower city stretching out from beyond the glitz of the upper town. Her knees were drawn up to her chest, her boyfriend’s blazer draped around her. Ignore the terrified aging man on the ledge, her MO of beheading people, her shadow-y 20s mafia of a partner; and you might just find her a picture perfect moment with her red rockabilly curls and the backdrop of a glittering city that shone too prettily for a conglomerate leech.
“What are you doing, Anya?” he asked carefully. He knew deep down that the only way the commissioner was leaving this place was in a body bag. Still, finding him alive after all this while gave him some kind of sick hope that he still could tap into the recesses of the empathetic girl she once was.
“What does it look like?” she grinned as if she were proudly displaying a piece of art she was working on.
The man she kept calling Sugar (real name: Malone Diaz) hopped up to sit next to her, lighting another cigarette. He seemed vaguely disinterested in the proceedings, but who could tell what his attention was on under that out-of-place 20’s mafia fedora.
He looked at the commissioner, tied to a metal chair with a thick cable and gagged with his own tie. What was she planning to do with him? The man looked at him with pleading eyes, red and covered in sweat. He didn’t appear to have any bleeding injuries, but he had no doubt that she had somehow managed to break him nonetheless. The intense glare showed that the commissioner recognized him, the Vigilante, come to save him.
Now he had no ill will towards the man despite the bad publicity he had been associated with. Indeed, a vigilante can’t expect any easy-goings with the police even if their intentions run along the same lines. But he wasn’t exactly surprised to find the pompous man in this very scenario either. The man had already a long running inkling of dealing with the underworld in more ways than just a jurisdiction. Rumors of him abusing his power; covering up numerous deaths and AWOLs, running confiscated guns and drugs to mention a few had been rampant. Anya appeared to be doing her Red Queen act, once again subjecting a criminal to her own Court.
No one survives the Red Queen’s verdict.
“Its not our place to say what happens to him,” he spoke up, his dark helmet concealing his expression.
“Really now? Who’s is it then? The people‘s?” she chortled, swinging her feet.
She fell silent, her smile fading as she contemplated his rationale. “You really are an anarchist, aren’t you?” she stated.
He almost chuckled at her remark. So very Anya. But that girl was dead. The one watching him right now bore her face, her smile, her passion; but it wasn’t her. Not anymore.
“Let him go, Jaxon,” he took in a sharp inhale, forcing the coldness of her death into his voice.
She sneered at his use of her family name. Her true, dark lineage.
She slipped off the ventilation shaft and slowly paced towards the commissioner, resting a hand on his shoulder gently and staring into his eyes. The commissioner reacted quite badly to this, screaming behind his tie gag and squirming away from her quite frantically, appearing to forget that the floor ended behind him. Her violet eyes stared right through him; it was the Vigilante‘s reaction she really was looking for.
She made a show of contemplating the Vigilante’s rationale, leaving the bloodsucker to the public he wronged. But he was forgetting that they were as much among them as they were the same one coin. She drew back, her arms hanging limply at her sides.
“Fine,” she answered. He stiffened.
“What?” he couldn’t believe his ears.
“Buuuuut, if the PEOPLE say he should die, I’ll kill him,” she added, with a cheeky grin and a finger pointedly at her statement.
He stood still, unsure whether to believe her or not.
“He should die!” Sugar quipped.
She spun around with a huge grin on her face. “AITE!” she smacks her lips at him and kicks the chair, sending the horrified commissioner careening over the edge of the hotel.
The Vigilante springs forward, horrified, but a thick cable snaps the commissioner to a right dangling position over the edge. The man becomes even more pale, and starts to scream muffled.
“Gotcha,” she winked.
He practically hyperventilated in his helmet, his whole body frozen in a distress response; his arm outstretching his wrist grappler, trembling. Damn her sick sense of humor.
Her next words halt him to his core as he rushed to pull the commissioner from the direct drop view.
“What if I told you he knows something about Ivan? You can’t tell me it doesn’t matter,” her words chilled him to the bone as he passed her.
He stopped just short of grabbing the back of the chair and straightened, staring at the man who was a twang of a piano string away from death. He turned to look back at her slowly, only to find her staring off in the direction of the old clock tower mournfully.
“Ask him. Ask him why Ivan chose to believe in that mask you wear underneath that helmet instead of the great Badge of Courage,” she looked at him out of the corner of her violet eye.
Anya. His Anya. Staring at him again all sad-like and lonely as the moon itself. His heart thundered in his throat at the sight of her. But she flickered away far too soon, and cold neutrality settled over her once again.
What was this about Ivan? What secrets among all the unspoken did she manage to squeeze out of the commissioner?
She approached the both of them, crouching down to sit beside the old man, prodding him to recount what he told her, Ivan’s ward, to his protege, the current Vigilante successor.
The Vigilante too, gives in, and they extract information from the corrupt man, working together once more. AJ and the Beetle; revenants of a lifetime past, resurfacing but only just barely.
His ears burn with the man’s confessions, and his gut sinks under the weight of knowing his mentor’s tragic past. He steps away from the man, a little too disgusted to bother to pull him to safety at the moment. She joins him, letting the silence ease the assimilation of history. Her closeness was becoming unbearable.
“Now do you understand? He didn’t just fuck over third-class families too poor to scrounge up bribes, he also killed Ivan’s family! Letting the system deal with him is like putting the fucking cod back into water,” she growled.
His hands shot out and grabbed her shoulders. He ignored the click of the gun hammer from Malone and held her at arms length.
“DON’T YOU SEE? Don’t you see Ivan chose to be a goddamn hero, instead wasting away looking for revenge?” he shook her hard. Her eyes widened, but she did not respond. He sank slightly, resting on her.
He felt like bursting into sobs; his helmet suffocated him despite having high-tech ventilator pores. And he knew she didn’t need his helmet to be off to see his expression right then and there. He felt her shoulder move, her waving Malone down.
“I’m gonna let him go,” she whispered monotonously to the side of his helmet.
He still couldn’t believe his ears and looked up at her. The expression on her face was strange; almost pitiful. But was it for the both of them or just for him? She gently slipped his arms off and took a step back. “Go on,” she crossed her arms, cocking her head at the ledge.
The Vigilante springs into action, racing towards the hanging man. A loud twang resounds behind him, and the cable whips away downwards. In his rush he looks behind, only to see Sugar with an axe, and her with a cold, cold smile on her face. An evil smile.
He plunges down to save him, grapple fired out to the neighboring building; but a glint following the commissioner in a scarily straight line flashing in and out comes into view.
The commissioner’s head is severed clean off with a garrote.
The Vigilante is swung onto a thick window sill, out of sight, as the head and the body fall splat to the ground in the midst of a fairly busy night street. Screams fill the air a bit too slowly as the passer-bys began to realise what just landed a mere feet from them.
“WOW did ya see THAT?! I mean the science was flaky and the execution a little shoddy, but WOW!!! WHOOOO! THE GOOLITINE IS BACK!” she bellows from the roof manically.
“Gee-lou-tine, Love,” Sugar gathers her in his arms and she swings, laughing out loudly.
She mock salutes the few who are smart enough to look back up from where the body plunged from.
Her eyes travel to him, and her smile becomes a straight line, filled with that Anya-like sadness but taken over by the Red Queen‘s contempt. Her reasoning was strong, solid and merciless. Why take a risk of the legal system failing them once more?
Justice for the one that mattered the most. Justice even for Us.
He didn’t stop freaking out till he was back in his hideout, when his stomach contents spilled out over his floor; and he keeled there, shivering , feeling the sudden loss of her once more like a knife in his gut.