“He’s what?!” Michael Rowell shouted into the telephone. The night was turning into morning and he had just climbed into bed when the phone rang. He cursed, and his latest girlfriend murmured as she turned over, but she didn’t wake. Michael barely paid her any attention. He looked out of his window in the high-rise building, in the distance part of the city was still glowing orange. He had looked on with pride at Ash’s handiwork but now…
His informant at the police station told him the details. After Felicio ran Detective Lang reported what had happened and called for a team to clean up the mess. The bloodied mass of flesh that used to be Ash’s body was a gruesome sight, and Detective Lang was in a foul mood. Michael could hardly believe it when he was told of the gaping hole in Ash’s throat. Ash had been one of the meanest, fiercest people he had ever known. Many times over the past few years he had used Ash as an unchained beast, the brute had never shied away from spilling blood and to think that someone could have defeated him…this Felicio was going to be harder to get rid of than Michael initially thought. He put the phone down and hung his head, mourning Ash not as a friend but more as a pet. Then he shook himself free from mourning, no matter, he thought, there are plenty more dogs at the pound.
He was worried about Felicio though. From what his informant said the masked man seemed to be a do-gooder that had appeared from nowhere. Nobody really knew anything about him, and Michael hated unknown variables. Many stories had been told, most of them seemed to be in the realm of myth, talking about his sharp claws that extended from his fingers and the way he blended into the night like a shadow. Michael couldn’t believe anything supernatural was at work, he was far too pragmatic for that, obviously the man was using some sort of weapons hidden in gloves. Man’s capacity for imagination was often his greatest downfall, Michael liked to tell himself, for the fear that resided in one’s own mind was often far more terrifying than what reality held in store. Still, it was disquieting to know that Felicio could rip out a man’s throat without a second thought.
It was also a concern that Felicio seemed to do what he did out of the goodness of his heart. So far Michael had been able to bribe most people, every man had his price, but what could he do for Felicio, who did what he did not for money or fame, but out of some sense of duty, Michael supposed. It seemed an entirely foreign concept to him, he didn’t understand why anyone would put themselves in such situations without getting anything back in return. Michael’s philosophy of life was simple; he wanted to get as much as he could as quickly as he could, and he couldn’t understand why other people wouldn’t want to live that way. If his plans were to come to fruition though he would need to take care of Felicio, so instead of going to sleep he searched through his contacts and got in touch with a few other dogs. Time to release the hounds, he thought.
The sun dipped over the horizon as Felicio staggered through the city, squinting as the bright morning rays blinded him. He kept to the rooftops as usual, keeping out of sight of the general public. He made his way to Stacy’s house, and she opened a window for him, bleary-eyed and tired. She began to chat away normally but then she noticed the blood seeping out of his costume and rushed to his aid as he collapsed on her bed.
“What happened?!” she asked, frantically grabbing a towel from the bathroom to wipe the scarlet mess from his skin, but she could barely hear his response as it was an intelligible gasp. He lay down on the bed and rested his eyes. She came back with a bowl of water. She sat beside him and carefully peeled off his mask and the top of his costume. He was barely conscious, so exhausted and battered and drained from the events of the night that he hardly realised where he was. In his hazy state he saw Stacy as an angel, and occasionally he smiled and murmured something intelligible but mainly he just drifted into a sweet sleep.
As she washed his body her heart ached for him. As her hands caressed his wounds she felt each one, as if she were sharing his pain. Suddenly she realised the magnitude of what he was doing. When he had first saved her she thought it charming and gallant, like something out of a fairytale. Now the grim reality was staining her bed with scarlet, but instead of turning away she faced it with a pure heart and her feelings for him swelled. She realised then what he was putting himself through and how much of a sacrifice he was making for such a thankless task. She still wasn’t entirely sure what drove him to do this duty but she knew that she admired him for it, and that she would be his for as long as he wanted. Rorschach came in and started growling at the foot of the bed but Stacy shooed him away. She went back to nursing Peter, he looked so innocent and pure and beautiful, despite being covered with bruises. She rested a hand on his chest and his lips twitched a little, and she felt an overwhelming urge to smother him with affection. Instead, she leaned over and softly kissed his forehead, brushing away the hair that had become matted against his skin.
Lewis was sitting in his front room. The wounds on his face had healed but the Mark of Felicio remained, three long scars covered his cheek from his eyes to his lips. The man with the golden tooth strolled in whistling, and went to draw the curtains.
“What are you doing,” Lewis said, his words hollow and sharp.
“Oh morning boss, I was just going to let some light in.”
The man with the gold tooth hesitated, but he acquiesced to Lewis’ wishes. He went to say something else but then thought better of it, and left Lewis sitting, staring into space. All he had been able to think about since that night was Felicio, how he had come in and ruined his plans, and taken Stacy. The girl hadn’t meant that much to him in truth, but she’d been so steadfast in her refusals and so dismissive that it had only fanned the flames of his desire. But worse were the scars he had left. Lewis had long accepted that he would never grow to be a handsome man, so he had cultivated a confident and powerful aura but now the scars had made him grotesque, and even in the short while he had had them he’d seen how people looked at him. He was a monster and his already dark heart was growing darker by the second. He was determined to see Felicio’s grave and the gears of his powerful mind were turning quickly, trying to think of the best possible course of action. There was an obvious weakness he could exploit, but before he could formulate a proper plan his phone rang. It was Michael.
“This Felicio is too much trouble. He needs to be eliminated,” Michael said.
“I couldn’t agree more.”
“I’m bringing in the big guns, but I also want to bring our plans forward. I’ll be supplying you with a new pill for distribution, a red one. We’re going to make the star children go nova.”
“Gladly,” Lewis said, the scars on his face moving as a malicious smile formed. There he sat, consumed by the darkness, not letting the rosy sun shine on his scarred flesh.