There is love, and then there is adulation. And yes, he is smart enough to know the difference.
Still, he lets the applause wash over him and tries to feel every hand as a caress. He swallows their words as if they were food; as if he could subsist on beliefs alone, remake himself in his own image. The crowd chants a name: maybe the city's, maybe his. Maybe there isn't a difference anymore.
Then the cheering pours into his ears, and pumps him so full of emptiness that he bursts. It kills him.
Well. In a manner of speaking.
He's never cared for metaphors, but his cardiac muscle is thrice the size of an ordinary human being's (of any human being's, he reminds himself, ordinary or no) and he feels that should count for something.
All it means these days, though, is that the drumbeat in his chest is slow and reliable. His heart doesn't realize it's supposed to be dead. Well, no problem. Sometimes he uses it as a metronome.
But then Roxanne and Megamind visit, and he sees something,new and raw and sweet, blooming in every stray gesture and sideways glance.
Now his tempo is broken.
Wayne (because logo be damned, that's still what he calls himself, in his gut-deep soul-sure private voice) knows love, he thinks.
He knows love isn't found in a crowded room, or easily purchased. Not even with stars. He knows cold sheets, and the sterility of a fortress filled with childhood ghosts instead of children. Like stenciling, he figures he'll trace the outline in the absence.
But then the hook snags his heart, and he can see the shape of things all too clearly.
All he knows, now, is this: he's always been a hero. But he'll never get the girl.