Title: Once More Into the Breach

Author: Jedi Buttercup

Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are Whedon's.

Rating: T

Summary: He had his own burden of guilt, his own history with a beloved's death repurposed as an entrée into circles of power. 450 words.

Spoilers: Angel post-"Not Fade Away"; post-Act III for Dr. Horrible

Notes: For the August Fic-a-Day, Day 7. Possibly set in the future of "In Memory of Penny Lesse" ...?

Wesley studied the first of the two publicity photos with a critical eye. A pair of welding goggles perched atop spiky, blond-tipped hair; black gloves, a cruel smirk, and a crimson lab coat completed the uniform, leaving little doubt as to the subject's occupation. An obvious candidate for the Evil League of Evil, the cartoonish successor to the defunct Circle of the Black Thorn.

A more different man could scarcely be imagined than the diffident youth in hoodie and jeans who had visited Pryce Investigations in search of assistance. Wesley knew it was traditional for those aspiring to superhero or villain status to maintain a much different identity as cover, likely due to the influence of graphic novels upon that particular stratified subculture, and yet-- he did not doubt Billy's sincerity. After all, he had his own burden of guilt, his own history with a beloved's death repurposed as an entrée into circles of power.

Not to mention his recent status as the beloved formerly dead. After hearing his story, Wesley rather suspected that Billy, aka Dr. Horrible, had hired him as much to discover Illyria's methods of resurrection as for help in thwarting the ELE's latest scheme; someone-- likely Anne, who would have known Penny Lesse through her work with the East Hills Teen Center-- had clearly been telling tales out of school.

Regardless, the opportunity to infiltrate the League could not be missed. In exchange for a chance for Billy to plead his case with Illyria in person, Dr. Horrible had agreed to hire a new, pyrokinetically talented henchman, to be impersonated by Wesley himself. He had mastered the elemental conjuration of fire to a sufficient degree to fake such a talent, and it would be a logical complement to the skillset of Horrible's current henchman, Moist.

Illyria was not best pleased with the plan; but she had been calculatedly cautious of him since his reawakening, allowing him as much independence as she could while maintaining her claim on him. Should a fight break out, "Blue Thunder" would most certainly appear at his side; in the meantime, so long as he took no other, she continued to allow him autonomy. Courtship via bloodshed, mayhem, and demonstrations of dominance: not what he'd ever expected out of life, but if he could not have Fred... well. There were worse things, worse places to be.

He laid the second publicity photo beside the first. Blue-tinged brown hair, electric blue eyes, and a stubbled jaw rose above the collar of a black leather duster; a cigarette lighter winked in the figure's hand. Just different enough from himself to be sufficient to the purpose.

It was time for "Phlogistos" to make his debut.