The cool metal of the trigger is biting into his hands, and every muscle in his body is coiled with the determination that he had lacked so long ago. The woman is on her knees, looking up toward him so that he could glory in the blueness of her eyes, the moles on her neck, the darkness of her eyebrows—everything that does not make her Penny.
But the gun clicks in his hand, and she bends her neck forward, and a sheet of hair tumbles in a smooth red flow down to scratch the cool marble floor of the bank.
Moist is shouting something, but his voice is lost and muffled to his ears, as though he were underwater. Because for all he knew now, she could be—
She could be—
The gun suddenly feels slick and slippery in his hands, as opposed to the unyieldable steel it had been before.
There is suddenly impatience tinting Moist's voice, and the entire bank is staring at him, and the air between him and Penny is hardening into a solid block, and damn it he cannot move.
Before he had forced her down to the ground, she had insulted him. Shouted something about terrorizing the town, his being a dictator. Was that something Penny would say?
He would never know.
The hand holding the gun suddenly feels so tired and weary, and he drops it to his side. As he pivots, the entire bank's eyes shift to the floor, and he hears the girl's slight breath of disbelief behind him.
"Moist, we have what we need. Let's leave," he says tersely, and he paces out of the bank in a swirl of white lab coat, Moist squelching behind him, and the amazed gazes of the people in the bank slip off of him like oil off of water (or so he wishes.)
"Bad Horse won't like this, man," Moist comments helpfully, frowning from the door as Billy pretends to fiddle with his computer. "I mean, you showed lenience—that can't be good, right? I mean—not really Evil League of Evil material—"
"Huh," Billy mutters, scrubbing dust off of the monitor. "Guess not."
Again, Moist's voice breaks off into mutters of "I mean, you are the city's supervillain" and "bad for publicity" as he stares out the window, filmed over in a fine screen of dust and speckles of dirt. During the summer, he kept it filthy that way on purpose so that he wouldn't have to see the sun shining and the flowers growing and the world and everything that had made Penny happy keep going, going, and going as if everything was still all right and as if the thing that had made the world spin was not gone. (Smile vibrant, green eyes bright, laughter so sweet, and then going, going—gone.)
A flash of red at the bottom of one of his drawers catches the light.
"And, like, he is the thoroughbred of sin, plus, 'Evil League of Evil'—"
He gently takes the photograph by its slick, glossy corner and pulls it out underneath the piles of musty books that hadn't been cracked open in months. His eyes rove greedily over the smooth, alive face in the picture and sees that it's been torn a bit at the corner. He remembers, after so many nights of staring blankly at the wall with a silent empty void yawning inside of him, finally snapping, screaming curses out into the street, hurling the damned thing across the room and smashing the photograph frame into thousands of little glass pieces and shoving the photograph someplace where it would never trouble him again.
"—not really encouraging lenience, y'know? And man, sorry for ranting, but we can't really risk your spot on the Evil League of Evil, fresh new villains are cropping up all over the world now and it's just kinda risky now…."
Drop the photo in the drawer. Slam it shut. Step back. Breathe. Take it all and bundle it up and put it in the deepest, darkest corner of your mind, because he's Dr. Horrible, isn't he? He shouldn't care anymore. He can't afford to care anymore. It's better this way, better that she's gone. There's nothing left to lose.
"You're right, Moist," he hears himself say. "I'll tell Bad Horse that it was just a misunderstanding and not to expect anything like this again." He stands up and kicks the chair underneath the desk. "Excuse me, I think I'll tell him right now."
He walks away.
The laundromat is still there. What had he thought, Billy would often think as he made feeble excuses to pass by it, that it wouldn't be?
After attempting to explain himself to Bad Horse, his feet carry him out of his lair and to the laundromat, just so that he could hear the rumble of the washing machines and see it all gaudily lit up for the night, things that had once sent gushes of butterflies to his stomach when he thought of who just might be there.
He stops at the corner and nervously eyes it, wondering if he should just stroll in for old time's sake. He had taken his lab coat and his goggles off; nobody would question him if he innocently walked in, it was a public place after all. Billy's shoes start on the pavement before he can waste another second mulling it over, but tap to a gradual halt when his eyes catch on the couple sitting on top of the machine farthest away from the door.
His heart flutters weakly in his chest when the girl (her hair's a mop of ashy brown, nothing to worry about there) reaches for his hand. The man smiles and entangles his fingers in hers. Something that he had ached every day to do, shuffling uncertainly in front of his own machine with warmth on his cheeks and her vaguely disinterested smile in his direction wrapping around his heart like a vice.
The man says something, and she throws back her head and laughs. (Her eyes are green. He wants to vomit.)
Billy turns around and wanders home with hunched shoulders, kicking viciously at loose pebbles and bits of gravel as he goes. He makes a mental note to someday burn that laundromat to the ground—no other couple deserves to find refuge there, and no place should have the right to carry the ghost of sweet-smelling scarlet hair and emerald-jade eyes and the musical notes of her laughter.
Bad Horse is not pleased. (Well again, thoroughbred of sin, Moist adds helpfully, when is he ever?) Dr. Horrible, to the relish of the public, had screwed up once more. He had had the girl in his sights, the girl who Hourglass had claimed would be the next 'hero' to look out for in about five years or so. He watched her through his rain-washed goggles, an emotionless smile stretching wide in triumph as he noted her short black hair, her caramel brown eyes, and the refreshing not-Penny that oozed everywhere from the movements of her hands to the occasional flip of her hair to the rich onyx of her skin. She has a slim Blackberry clutched to her ear, completely focused on the conversation as she speaks animatedly, absently grabbing onto a lamppost and spinning around in the middle of her casual stroll. Distracted and inconvenienced. Perfect.
Dr. Horrible gently glides forward on the slippery belly of the apartment roof adjacent to the girl to get a better look. As she sweeps in a careless, graceless motion into the pool of light in front of her own apartment, he draws the Death Ray out of its holster.
She stops, and begins to exchange familiarities with the person on the other line. Looks like the call's starting to wrap up. Now or never, Billy Buddy.
He fixes the girl inside the pinpointed sphere of his target, and the Death Ray begins to hum. Dr. Horrible closes his eyes and breathes, whoosh in, whoosh out, and he's ready.
His finger tightens on the trigger.
And then she laughs.
It's a laugh so full of hope and vibrancy and life, and the pure solid warmth of it is enough to drive the rain away for now, reducing the storm clouds to hissing curls of steam under the brilliance of a sunlit laugh. It's so wild and free and warm, but it freezes the breath right in his chest, and for a precious stream of seconds Billy wants to cry, something that he hasn't done since—
He could just close his eyes, and she could be—
But she isn't. She says goodbye, and hits the END button, and saunters inside, humming to herself as she does so. It's only when she closes the door that he realizes he's dropped the gun, and a cascade of trembling suddenly wracks him without warning as he slides down and buries his face in his hand, because he just can't take it anymore. He cares far too much, and even though his world is already gone he feels like there's still everything leftto lose.
(Dr. Horrible slumps back home in the pouring rain, mission failed, amidst a sea of whispers and jeers, and when he closes his door to his apartment the storm clouds have massed once more and his house has never felt more dark and empty.
Never more alone.)
It's raining again that night, sharp, fresh air electric in his lungs. Any sensible person would be curled up at home in their bed, riding out the thunderstorm, but he's sitting on the railing of the bridge and watching the stars through patches in the roiling black clouds, so cold and distant and so far away from him.
Even in the darkness…
Billy suddenly stands, bare feet kissing the lower railing and his back pressing into the sturdy wetness of the rainy metal.
Every color can be found…
That's her voice, so soft and gentle and clear as always, singing to him from the darkest corner of his mind—somewhere where he'd sworn he'd keep the memory of her forever.
Leave me alone, Penny! He mounts the top of the railing in a sudden fluid move, and begins to pace, feverishness driving his jerky movements and his breaths shooting out faster and faster.
And every day of rain…
Dr. Horrible's—Billy's—hands bury themselves into his hair, slightly shifting his goggles and causing them to slip off of his head. Cracks skitter across the glass lenses when they land on the ground.
Brings water flowing to things growing in the gro-ound…
But the water below him, so far below him, is rushing, rushing, tunneling in a white-frothed roar of fury, nothing like the gentle flow of water she had always said rain brought.
And every drop of rain…
Dr. Horrible—Billy—(was there ever a difference? Maybe, maybe once there had been, he had forgotten)—stares at the crashing, screaming waves below him and wonders if this is when the void that her absence had left inside of him would finally swallow him whole, and wonders what was keeping it from doing so.
Will keep you growing seeds you're sowing in the ground...
Perhaps it was the seed that she had sown in him, with her easy confidence in hope and her graceful laugh and her endless supply of certainty that things would turn all right, in the end. That Captain Hammer would save them all.
His hands tighten on the rail, then relax.
And then something rooted deep inside of him yanks him back, binding his arms back to the railing as he spots something.
Billy slides back through the slit in the railing and kneels on the ground, dirt packing around his knees and the earthy scent of flowers wafting up to his nose. A cluster of rain-leafed roses had sprouted next to the bridge, the same identical, beautiful shade of ruby that he had suddenly taken to seeing everywhere. He breathlessly glances around, as though he were doing something wrong, but finds no accusers and no blameful gazes. He plucks one of the roses up out of a place where it shouldn't have grown, but did, and inspects it, twirling it around in his fingertips.
He knows what he should do. Just like everything that reminded him of Penny. Throw it away. Cast it over the side of the bridge, stomp on the rest of them for good measure, and be on his merry way. Grovel for mercy in front of Bad Horse and volunteer to do something, anything. Step back into the shoes and lab coat of Dr. Horrible. Life resumes as normal.
But Penny believed that there was good in everybody's heart. She believed that every drop of rain brought more flowers and seeds to sow. She believed that even when everything was dark and crashing around you and all that you could see in your future was nothing more than that, there were still roses to pick and still stars to look at through the storm clouds.
So he leaves. He takes the rose with him, and leaves the others behind in their perch at the foot of the bridge for somebody else to find. It's not something Dr. Horrible would do. It's probably something Penny would do. Maybe it's something Billy would do. He's still not sure.
He keeps the rose in a jar of water at the corner of his desk, and he scrubs the window so that the sunlight can nourish it too.
And there it stays, where he can keep it safe and sound.
So keep your head up, Billy Buddy.
Christ, that was probably the saddest thing I've ever written. I'm so sorry. But rewatching Dr. Horrible gives you so many feeeeeels…
Also it turned into a rambling mess at the end bc I got really tired all of a sudden and just kind of…blah.
So. Was it weird? Bad? Good? Depressing? Please tell me what you think and thanks for reading, you amazing person:)