By the time you hear the familiar thud of metal boots rapidly making their way down the hall, the rush you felt during and after the kiss has faded into confusion and a sense of helplessness. You sit on the edge of the work table, your head cradled in your hands, your tools and plans long forgotten behind you.
"Dirk…" You replay the visit in your head, over and over, reliving your encounter with The Tailorbird. He wanted you. He loved you. And you wanted him too.
Didn’t you? The longer you think about what happened, the more your memories feel fuzzy and unclear. How could you, General Terror, ever yearn for the kiss and embrace of your mortal enemy?
Sure, if you want to be completely honest with yourself, there were times in the past where you somehow thought maybe the two of you could be great friends. You felt a sense of unrealized kinship, something intangible but there—perhaps even just the possibility itself teasing you with something you could never have. But you got over the crazy notion a long time ago. You have Otto; you don’t need Dirk as an off-duty companion anymore. Otto is more than enough, and you are happy to have him. At least that’s what you thought.
So how the fuck did you end up kissing Dirk Strider and liking it?
"Jake." Otto’s voice breaks through your reverie as he finally finds his way to you. "Did he do anything to you?"
You slowly lift your head to meet his concerned orange gaze. Although you’ve seen Otto a million times before—hell, these days, you spend more time with him than without him—it suddenly hits you that he is a metallic replica of Dirk’s physical features. Why that bothers you now of all times… well, okay, you know why. But you feel guilt at experiencing unease and dread instead of relief at your best friend’s appearance.
"I—I don’t know." You look away from him, glancing back down at your hands. "I think there’s something wrong with me, Otto." Maybe he did something. Maybe that’s why you feel so strange now.
True to his nature as your henchman and best friend, Otto closes the distance between the two of you by walking over and hovering close by. He doesn’t try to touch you, but his worry is still palpable just from the air around him.
"I’m sorry," he apologizes first and foremost, probably for his failure to protect you. "What happened?"
"He kissed me." You’re already subconsciously re-writing the events of history, pushing the blame of everything that happened onto The Tailorbird’s shoulders. "He put his hands all over me and kissed me." You shudder in revulsion. "He was frickin’ nuts, Otto. He told me he didn’t want to be alone, and I was the unlucky victim chosen to fulfill his mad desires. And he—I think he had some sort of power, although nothing I’ve never seen before. He made me want to go along with it.”
Even behind his shades, the way his eyes flare for a moment before returning to a neutral light is obvious. “Oh.” He’s quiet, then, considering what could have been done and what can still be done now. “Jake…”
After a beat, he decides to put his hand on your shoulder, uncertain of the best way to go about dealing with this situation but wanting to help anyway. “It’s not your fault. I shouldn’t have let him get in.”
"He shouldn’t have gotten in the first place. We barricaded all the entries, remember?" You shiver, chilled by the realization. "All our defenses… amounted to nothing. I’m not safe even in the protection of my own lair." And if that isn’t pathetic, you aren’t sure what is.
"We have to change our game somehow, Otto. I know Equius isn’t here to buff us up in a mechanical sense, but—I’ll figure something out. I always do. I’ll find a way to keep him the fuck out for good." You know you sound miserable, but that’s because you are.
What unsettles you most is the way he made you want to share yourself with him. If he had come to you and confessed without making any kind of real impact, sure, you would probably be chuckling with Otto right about now, already planning how to use this information to your advantage.
But this is different. This is something you want no part in. The Tailorbird can keep his creepy obsessive feelings all to himself. You’ll find a new nemesis. Form new alliances that you can call on if you come under significant threat once again. You’ll become a better supervillain.
Maybe then you can forget he ever touched your heart.
Posted on Saturday, 21 April 2012
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