I grew up in a city where Superheroes were basically celebrities. It wasn’t uncommon to see the top heroes on the front pages of tabloids, sitting in for interviews on late night television…basically anything that they could do to get their message out while saving the world was the way it worked in Monopolis.
When my brother got his Superpower, the family was elated. We come from a long line of Superheroes, so naturally everyone was excited to get him into the “Family Business”. Typhoon was paraded around like a new toy for several years until he grew into his powers enough to come out from under the wing of our father, Hurricane.
It wasn’t long before Typhoon found his nemesis: Flameweaver came from the Brood of Villains around the same time our family got Typhoon his metaphorical wings. As one of the only family members not “blessed” with Superpowers, it was always a tense time watching their fights in real time. I became a cameraman for the news specifically to watch them fight. It made my family even more anxious knowing I was out on ground zero every time something catastrophic was happening, but there was a thrill to the process I couldn’t really describe.
Of course, Typhoon won the battle every time. Fire and Water don’t mix, and I knew better than to doubt the power of my family. Still, sometimes I’d be recording live, listening to my reporter praise my brother, hoping in the back of my head that Flamweaver would win, just once…not because I wanted people to be hurt, of course. She was just…so powerful.
Villains didn’t keep themselves secret like they did in make believe. No, in our city it was common for people to root for their villains just like we rooted for our heroes. A strange result of praising heroes so much, but one that happened naturally over time according to my parents. I couldn’t help but root for someone so passionate about being bad. Flameweaver was strong, beautiful, and wanted so badly to triumph over good. It was unlike any other villain I had seen before.
“I fight for the people who want to see change,” she had said once in an interview I secretly watched, back when I was a teenager. She was barely older than my brother and I, but her composure was beyond her years. She wasn’t crazy or overcalculated like the other villains I had seen before. “This city is old. It deserves to be run by a platform that appreciates the good and the bad of this city. My people can do that for you all.”
I ate up every word while the rest of my family seethed.
Meeting Freya was an event that I can only describe as fate. I bumped into her on the street, helped her pick up her purse and things, and as soon as I made eye contact with her I saw those amber eyes and knew. “You’re Flameweaver!”
She shushed my already whispering self, looking around. “I’m not…right now. Right now, I’m just Freya.” Freya stood up straight, smiling at me. It was that same devilish smile that made her so popular with the villain lovers in the city. “Thanks for helping me pick up my stuff.”
“Yeah,” I breathed, unable to look away from her.
She chuckled. “What’s your name, guy?”
“Oh, uh, Doug Buckingham. Sorry.”
Freya let out a full laugh now, raspy yet delightful to the ear. “Wow, I didn’t expect the government name. First name would’ve been fine, Doug.”
“Sorry,” I repeated, feeling my face flush. I felt like I was blowing it, but she came closer, putting her hand on my shoulder.
“Thanks again, Doug. I’m pretty clumsy. It’s nice to have a cute guy stop and help sometimes.”
Cute guy? I could feel my face getting hotter, a goofy smile on my face. “N-no problem, Flam — uh, Freya.”
She winked at me, said “See ya around, Doug,” and walked off.
The next day, I saw her waiting for me at the end of the street we had bumped into each other 24 hours before. When I got close, she smiled. “Want to grab dinner tonight?”
That was the beginning of my relationship with one of the top villains in Monopolis. At first, I wondered if she was interested in me because of who I was related to, but as we got to know each other, I realized she had no idea who I was. How would she know, anyway? I was the little brother of Typhoon, but no one else knew as long as I didn’t say anything. I was never the one in the spotlight, so it didn’t really matter who I was. It was nice.
Meanwhile, Freya was recognized almost every time we went anywhere. No Superheroes or Villains really wore masks unless they really wanted to preserve their personal lives, and Flameweaver was no exception. Luckily for us, we only had problems every once in a while. All Freya would have to do is get the room “a little hot”, as she put it (meaning she’d just whip up a fireball as a threat) and we’d be left alone.
We dated for about a year before she wanted to meet my family. “I bet they’re fantastic, just like you,” she cooed into my ear while we laid in bed together.
I could feel my body shaking, the panic of reality setting in. “No, they’re awful,” I lied.
“Can’t be worse than mine,” she joked. “After all, I’m from a loooooong line of villains. How bad can yours be?”
I let out a pained laugh. “Mine are…you don’t…” Another choked chuckle. “Freya, I…”
She sat up now, confusion setting in. “What’s wrong, Doug?”
I tried to take a deep breath, but a couple of short ones were fine as I decided to speak. “My family…I…I’m one of the only people in the family not to have powers.”
“Oh,” Freya shrugged, laying back down with me. “What’s the big deal about that?”
My voice was barely above a mumble. “My brother is one of the top heroes in the city.”
“…and you fight him all the time.”
There was a pause where I could feel my heart in my throat, my body frozen in time. Freya slowly sat up, eyes wider than I had seen them before. “Your brother is…Typhoon?!”
“Oh, how’d you guess?” I squeaked out.
“Douglass!” She got out of bed and stood, looking at me like I had just told her about a death. “Your brother is my worst enemy.” Her expression changed to one of hurt. “Did you bump into me on purpose that one time?!”
“No, not at all,” I said, sitting up in bed. “That was pure coincidence!”
“I feel like you, of all people, would not lie to me,” she said cautiously, her arms wrapping around herself. “So don’t lie. Are we…this is real, right? Our relationship?”
“I’m not with you for my brother’s sake, trust me,” I said, unable to hide the soft laugh that came from me. “He has no idea we’re dating. I never told my family about you because they’d want to meet you, and, well…”
Freya nodded. “That’s definitely a problem.”
“I’ve always thought you were beautiful,” I told her. “Ever since you first came onto the scene. I love how you work…despite being a villain, you really have everyone’s best interests at heart. Other people in your Brood are just bad to be bad. You’re bad because you want to see good. It’s…inspiring. I’ve always thought you were cool.”
“It helps that I’m cute, though,” Freya shrugged.
“Well, yeah,” I smiled. We laughed together, and talk of meeting family was forgotten.
Until I bought her the engagement ring. As soon as Typhoon saw it, he needed to know who it was for.
“Come on, dude, you can’t hide shit like that from me!” he insisted, taking the box from my hands.
“Ty — give that back,” I begged, reaching for it. He was too quick, putting up a water-wall to look inside. He gasped as he opened it, looking over at me with an impressed look. “Tyler!”
“Okay, Dougie, I see you with this amazing ring! Who’s the lucky girl? And why does she like red so much?”
“It’s not red, it’s citrine!”
“Yeah, and there’s rubies too, I’m not stupid.” He let the water-wall down, tossing the box back at me. I caught it, albeit badly. “Who is she? Why haven’t we met her yet?”
“It’s not that big of a deal.”
“Obviously it is,” Typhoon, or Tyler, laughed. “You bought her an engagement ring, dude. Can’t I know? I’m your big brother!”
“You’ll find out,” I shrugged, trying to play it cool even though I was terrified of him running to Mom and Dad.
Which is exactly what he did.
“You’ll bring her to Family Dinner next week, Dougie,” my mom told me. Anything she said, went. I would be a dead man walking if I tried to fight her on anything, so I just nodded.
Freya was delighted to meet the family. “After what, three years? We can all finally meet!” She was dressed exceptionally well, as if she knew she was about to ruin dinner just by being there. I could tell she relished the thought. I couldn’t help but love her for it, even though my whole body was shaking with fear.
“Please don’t fight my brother,” I begged her for the fifteenth time.
“I promise I won’t,” she repeated. She winked as she added, “Defense moves only.”
We arrived at my parent’s place. The fountains in the garden took Freya’s attention away from my family in the doorway, waiting on us. “Come on,” I said to her, grabbing her hand. She followed me, looking around at the foliage in the setting sun’s light.
“Doug, it’s so nice to see you bringing someone home for Family Dinner,” my father said, his voice full of bass. There was no need to put on his hero voice for this.
My mother came to us, holding out her hand to Freya. “I’m Harmony,” she said, smiling brightly. “You must be Doug’s girlfriend.”
“Freya,” Freya said, smiling a polite smile I had never seen before. I wondered if she was holding back her true expressions for me, as to not be discovered. Either way, the two women shook hands and we started to walk into the house.
Tyler was sitting on the couch in the living room, watching the fish in the giant aquarium do their thing. “Hey, guys,” he greeted us. He then glanced over at me, then Freya, and then his body stopped. He was barely breathing as he stared at Freya. My parents walked on as we stood in the hall.
Freya winked at Tyler. I groaned.
Suddenly, Tyler flew up, water surrounding his body as he dashed towards Freya. Freya dodged him, moving out of the way of his attack effortlessly. “Dude, chill!!” I yelled, barely dodging the water blast myself.
My parents came running back into the living room. “What the hell is going on?!” Dad’s voice was full power. It almost shook the house.
“No one knows who this is!?” Tyler spat, not taking his eyes off of Freya. “No one can see this?!”
“Ty, what are you talking about?” Mom asked, clearly shaken by the sudden excitement.
“This is Flameweaver!!” Tyler yelled, pointing at Freya, who held up her hands in protest.
“My name’s Freya Blake, I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she lied, a little too well. “You’re Typhoon, though, I can clearly see that.”
“Tyler Buckingham, stop attacking this poor woman this instant!” Dad walked up to my brother and grabbed his arms. The water fell to the floor, puddles around their feet. I could tell that Freya was enjoying this a little too much, seeing as she couldn’t hide her devilish smile. I cleared my throat, and she placed her hand in front of her mouth, faking upset.
“Dude, that’s my girlfriend,” I said, trying to muster up my own upset tone. “Would you relax? Just because she looks like someone you fight doesn’t mean she is.”
“Why would you be dating a villain, Doug?!” Tyler asked, Dad still holding his arms. “You’re literally letting her infiltrate our house!”
“Tyler, relax and go set up the table,” Mom said, going to Freya to make sure she was fine. I shook my head, too many conflicting thoughts running through my mind. Lying to the family was one thing, but lying to Tyler? Typhoon? Someone who knew exactly what Flameweaver looked like, regardless of clothing or hairstyle? It was so stupid. Meanwhile, the ring box was in my pocket, burning a hole. I was still going to propose tonight, despite knowing it would eventually come out that Freya was a villain.
Dinner was awkward. Tyler and Freya sat across the table from each other. Freya was her usual charismatic self, telling my parents her usual cover story for new people (“I work at an insurance company downtown…yeah, we’re busy ALL the time!”). All the while, she’d look at Tyler and just smile.
Tyler, on the other hand, barely ate. He stared at Freya the whole time, unable to do anything but seethe at the fact that his enemy was sitting at dinner with him. It was embarrassing, honestly. He couldn’t pretend for a dinner?
We went out to the garden after dinner, I got Freya in front of the fountain, and I got down on one knee. Tyler stormed into the house as she said yes.
The families didn’t meet until the wedding. Imagine the surprise when Freya came down the aisle, flames surrounding her dress, her father adding his own to the mix to make a blue and orange symphony of light. Tyler was held back by the ushers (Freya’s brothers, of course) from ruining the day. My parents were shocked. Tyler had been right all along? How dare our son marry a villain! But they had tact, and wouldn’t dare ruin my wedding. Especially when I had the entire Brood of Villains on my side.
Only after the ceremony, only after we had signed the papers, did my parents say anything. “Dougie, I know you love Freya, but didn’t you think that this would be…a little complicated?” Mom asked, taking my hands in hers.
“That’s why I didn’t really talk about her all that much…I didn’t want you guys to talk me out of this just because of her rivalry with Typhoon.”
“Son…” My dad looked defeated. “I don’t have anything constructive to say to you at the moment…but if you are confident that this will not end up being a bad thing…I can’t say no.”
I knew that was the best it was going to get. “Thanks, Dad.”
“Go be with your new wife,” Mom sighed, unable to hide her smile. After all, her youngest son had found love.
Freya kissed me as soon as I got back to her, cinnamon filling my senses. “You have to try these hors d’oeuvres,” she said, shoving a cinnamon something into my mouth. “They are SO good.”
“Mmmhmm,” I smiled, looking at her. She was beautiful. I didn’t care that she was a villain. She had morals, and she had class, despite the way the world saw her. I could tell that she loved me for me as well…that’s all that I cared about in my life, and I finally had it.
Hello everyone! I got inspired by a prompt I found here earlier today and I kind of got lost in it. Hopefully you enjoyed reading!
Also, from here on out, I’m going to be posting twice a month instead of every Monday so that I can focus on moving and getting ready for Baby G. I’ll post the Monthly Wrapup for April next week, and then I’ll be back on May 9th! Technically if the last Monday of the month doesn’t fall on the every other week schedule, I’ll probably just post three times a month. This is a very loose plan I’ve got in mind, so bear with me here! Once I give birth, I’ll probably only post the Monthly Wrapup for a while until I get my New Mom Bearings, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
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