Trigger Warnings for implied self harm, and implied abuse. Pretty OOC Hammer, but I'm using therapy as an excuse for his enlightened behavior. First Doctor Horrible fic, feedback's appreciated. No beta.
It had taken two months for his therapist to finally snap at him. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday he visited the stocky, older man who was balding unattractively. Three times a week, twelve times a month, twenty four times over a two month span the disgraced hero sobbed about his 'traumatizing' experience, whining of how he had never felt pain before. It had taken twenty four sessions for the therapist to finally get over his fear of insulting the hero and do his job properly.
"You need to stop crying," he said pointedly, pushing up his glasses apprehensively. When it garnered no response from his patient, he lost his patience and any reservations he had. "Look at you," he said harshly, causing Captain Hammer to stop flailing. "Your injury is over two months old, and you're still a wreck. That scrawny Doctor Horrible can take a beating better than you. Now, if you would stop crying for seventeen seconds, we can get down to your real problems."
Captain Hammer gaped up at the man, who was glaring at him. He couldn't, for the life of him, think of anything to say. His usual deflects about being strong and famous and gorgeous suddenly seemed useless and naïve. He was outmatched. The therapist sniffed and looked down at his notes.
"It says here that you don't leave your apartment anymore, except to get food and to come here… and we both know the only reason why you come is because you're suspended from the Hero's League until you get my clearance. And I'll tell you one thing, Mister Hammer, you aren't getting it until we get to the root of your issues."
"I don't have any issues," Captain Hammer retorted, growing red. Heroes don't have fears, or issues, not ever. Especially not him… the brave and manly Captain Hammer. He just needed time to get back into his game, that's all. The therapist looked unimpressed.
"So, you're willing to tell me that the reason why you don't leave your house anymore is because you can't take a hit from a wimpy villain you used to thrash regularly." Captain Hammer was, once again, at a loss. That seemed to be happening a lot lately. He didn't want to say yes, because that was essentially saying that Doctor Horrible had beaten him. At the same time, if he said no, that would mean he was admitting that waking up in a cold sweat every night was an actual problem, not just a side effect of the injury he sustained.
It will pass, he thought to himself. But it sounded unconvincing even to him.
The real reason from his insomnia and his subsequent Agoraphobia was because, shortly after running away from Doctor Horrible, he realized his whole career of fighting Doctor Horrible had been a lie. The past years he had been kicking around an entirely different man, a dork named Billy who wore a lab coat and never really caused any damage. There had never been any fatalities in their brawls, even though the kid could have killed if he wanted to. In fact, the only person who ever got hurt was, in fact, Billy. "Doctor Horrible" was a glorified thief with a messed up moral compass. An idealistic kid in a lab coat and welding goggles. But Captain Hammer hadn't cared. He had beaten the nerd up anyways, even sending him to the E.R. on several occasions. Over what? Money to pay the bills, probably.
But that had all changed.
When Captain Hammer had looked at Billy at the ceremony, the man's eyes had been cold and calculating, bent on destruction and killing. He truly was Doctor Horrible. The only reason Captain Hammer wasn't dead was because, at the last second before Doctor Horrible had pulled the trigger, Billy had clawed his way back to the surface and had mercy on him. And how did Captain Hammer repay Billy for conquering Doctor Horrible? He had punched him in the face and attempted to put an end to him for good. Captain Hammer had realized something, when he had the Death Ray pointed in his face. Billy wasn't Billy anymore. Captain Hammer had made him into Doctor Horrible. And even though Billy had won out in the end and spared his life, the thought of Doctor Horrible lurking somewhere in the young man made him very scared. So he tried to destroy both of them at once. He tried to kill Billy, who made him doubt, and Doctor Horrible, who made him afraid.
The Death Ray back fired.
He hadn't killed Doctor Horrible, but destroyed Billy's control over him. Billy, the bright man who tried to warn him that the Death Ray was faulty, that it could hurt someone. He had broken the better half of the villain.
And that was why Captain Hammer couldn't sleep. He didn't dare go outside, because he was ashamed and felt responsible of every crime Doctor Horrible committed.
"Mister Hammer?" the therapist called, looking concerned at the hero's pensive look. It wasn't often anyone caught the tasteless man thinking.
"Yes?" the hero said, uncharacteristically grave.
"Are you ready to talk, or do you want to waste more of my time?" the man said, but the heat had gone from his voice.
Captain Hammer talked.
Two weeks, and six sessions later, Captain Hammer was cleared for duty. He didn't wake up as often now that he had faced his fears and guilt, but cold and broken blue eyes still burned into his eyelids when he slept. He still had peace to make.
He knew now that it was wrong of him to take advantage of an innocent bystander just to get to Billy. He hadn't even really felt anything for Penny, as he said at the ceremony, she wasn't really his type. She was a means to an end, just another way to hurt his nemesis. It had cost the girl her life, and probably Billy's remaining restraint. Captain Hammer knew from the blog Billy ran that he cared very deeply for her, more so than any petty crush. The blond haired man had been trying to muster up the courage to talk to her for years.
Captain Hammer had peace to make.
So, two and a half months after she had been laid to rest, Captain Hammer donned a baseball cap and a sweater vest and went to her grave. She was buried in a cemetery a couple blocks away from the Coin Wash she had frequented, where she ate frozen yogurt and confided with Billy twice a week. He knew this because she used to talk about her laundry buddy all the time. He had been jealous back then, angry that he wasn't the only object of her affection. Now he only felt guilt.
He was walking towards her plain, gray tombstone when he noticed someone else was walking there. Not wanting to be recognized, Captain Hammer quickly ducked behind a shrub and poked his head through the leaves. He was a rather big guy, so inevitably some of the branches snapped under his clumsy manhandling. The figure, still standing by the grave, tensed and turned towards the noise. Hammer's breath caught in his throat. It was Billy.
He looked terrible. He was dressed in all black, and was more pale, sickly and thin than he had ever been in the past. His blue eyes were rimmed with red, as if he had been perpetually crying for the past months. Billy looked directly at the shrub that the hero was using as a hiding spot, but didn't seem to see anything. Satisfied, the man turned back towards the grave. From his shelter, Hammer could just make out that Billy was trembling. He bent down and left something at the grave, and then turned and slowly left the cemetery.
Captain Hammer waited a few minutes before deeming it safe to see what Billy had left at Penny's grave. He felt a knot form in his stomach as he looked down at the small gift the mourning scientist had left. It was a dish of frozen yogurt.
Doctor Horrible struck quickly and professionally now, without any warning. He was never caught, and every bystander had their memories wiped at the scene of the crime. Captain Hammer supposed that he should be happy that the broken man didn't kill all of them. It was a small victory.
Although the hero felt responsible and guilty for Doctor Horrible's activities, it was his number one priority to protect the public from harm. So, he had to look for leads on the villain's next move. Naturally, the first place he looked was the blog Doctor Horrible ran. Once upon a time he followed his posts. Now it seemed like a life time ago. It was a silly sentiment. None of his emotions really made sense any more. He supposed it was because of his near death experience and resulting therapy.
Captain Hammer felt his heart drop as he noted the last entry had been made months ago, right after Penny had died. Reluctantly, he clicked play, and felt his throat constrict as he saw Billy making the entry, instead of the usual bumbling version of Doctor Horrible. Before, Doctor Horrible had just been Billy with a lab coat on. Now, he was a separate entity altogether. It didn't bode well that Billy was making the entry.
The video was short and to the point, talking about his acceptance into the ELE (Hammer swallowed at that) and how the death of the girl he lov- Billy cleared his throat- did his laundry with granted him entry in to the League. He detailed of how he wouldn't be blogging anymore, because it was unprofessional, and he went on to thank the people that supported him. It was all very anticlimactic and unfeeling, and somehow that made it even worse.
Then something interesting happened.
Billy's eyes glazed, and he talked about how all his life, he had waited for this moment. But he didn't feel a thing. He turned the camera off abruptly, and static filled the screen before the entry ended. Hammer knew a lie when he saw one. It was true that Billy didn't feel that happiness and pride he had expected, but the hero suspected that he felt something. Heart break.
It was another month before Hammer saw or heard anything of the elusive Doctor Horrible. When he did finally meet him, it was purely accidental. He had been withdrawing some funds at the bank so he could pay his rent, when Doctor Horrible casually strolled in with a ray in hand, looking the part of a cruel, cold hearted villain. The welding goggles obscured his eyes, and Hammer felt his heart speed up. It was his duty to stop Doctor Horrible. But without seeing his eyes, he had no idea if the man before him was actually Doctor Horrible or just Billy. It shouldn't matter. But it did.
The man in front of him was a far cry from the boy he used to beat up for blowing up parking meters. The ray in his arms looked sleek and professional, no chance of it backfiring anymore. The normally white lab coat was red, and his gloves were black, giving him a sinister look. Doctor Horrible looked around the bank, seeming to revel in the panic, when he noticed Captain Hammer still standing after everyone else had fallen down to the floor in fear. The scientist's face twisted into a sick parody of a smile.
"Captain Hammer, finally out of hiding, I see," he stated calmly, as if commenting on the weather.
Captain Hammer narrowed his eyes.
"I can't let you do this, Horrible," he said, cutting through the banter. He was in a defensive position, which made the villain frown slightly. He was used to being rushed and pummeled, not so much this new tactic. Something had changed.
"What happened to you," he growled, not liking this unexpected alteration. Captain Hammer smirked a little, but there was no malice in it.
"Therapy," he said, before moving slowly towards the red clad man, who moved back. He brandished the weapon and fired. The hero ducked and rolled, and the beam of light hit a desk, causing it to disintegrate. Hammer gulped, Horrible had definitely moved up in the world. There was a kick back after the Doctor fired, causing him to fly backwards with a yelp. He hit the floor with a thud, and the goggles were knocked off his head.
Captain Hammer moved towards the grounded villain, who was mumbling to himself, something about not taking the square root or something like that. He could almost kid himself and say that nothing had changed. But he knew, as he kicked the deadly weapon away from Doctor Horrible, that nothing was the same anymore. He grabbed the man by his red lab coat and pushed him into the wall, noticing that the genius's eyes were icy and empty. So, it was Doctor Horrible that he was dealing with.
"What are you waiting for," the man snarled, not looking afraid like he used to when he was in this position. It made Captain Hammer uncomfortable. "Finish it!" he shouted.
Time seemed to slow down, and a few seconds seemed like hours. Finally, Hammer loosened his grip, but didn't let go.
"Why'd you change your lab coat? Why is it red now?" he asked quietly, so only Horrible could hear. The question seemed to catch the man off guard. Uncertainty flickered in the blue eyes, and his lower lip trembled. It was then that the hero knew he was dealing with Billy now, not the cold hearted Doctor Horrible that took center stage most of the time. Billy opened his mouth; a thousand answers seemed to compete for priority.
Penny's hair was red, he seemed to want to say.
Penny's blood was red when I killed her.
I'm so fucking angry, red is the color of anger, right?
In a flash, the cold look overtook Billy's face again, and Captain Hammer almost dropped him in shock.
"White is the color of innocence. And I'm no longer innocent, am I?" he sneered before wriggling out of Hammer's grip and escaping, without any money or his disintegrating ray.
Captain Hammer was ashamed to say that after Doctor Horrible's most recent successful heist, he had followed the villain back to his apartment. The man took a lot of back alleys and zigzagged, but after about an hour and a half of walking, he finally entered the building.
Hammer was growing desperate. The city council was increasing pressure to put a stop to Horrible's ever worsening crimes, as it was costing the government a lot of money. He couldn't find any leads on what Doctor Horrible's plans were. Things were infinitely more complicated than they used to be.
Moist, Billy's old roommate, had been a dead end. He said that he hadn't heard much from his friend since he had been accepted into the ELE.
The ELE had also been a dead end. No matter how many resources the Hero League had, they couldn't pin down the Evil League of Evil for long enough for Hammer to get straight answers.
So, after showing up too late yet again to stop Doctor Horrible's heist, he stayed in the shadows, and followed the man home. Perhaps he could look in through the windows and see some of the scientist's latest devices or equations. It seemed like an invasion of privacy, but he was running out of options.
That was how he found himself lurking outside of his nemesis' window, using some equipment from the Hero League to be able to see and hear what was going on in the modest apartment.
Doctor Horrible opened the briefcase filled with rare and expensive acids he had stolen and stored them carefully into cabinets filled with deadly chemicals Captain Hammer couldn't pronounce the names of. After the glass doors had been shut, Doctor Horrible, or Billy, took a shuddering breath and moved out of Hammer's view. He could still hear what was going on though. From the sound of it, the villain was brewing a cup of tea. A couple minutes later, the man moved back into eye sight with a mug in hand, looking exhausted and sickly. Billy moved towards a huge armchair and sat in it, grabbing a picture frame from the adjacent table and looking at it. His eyes were glassy, but no tears fell. Billy's throat did a quick spasm, and he set his head against the back of his chair and sighed. The picture was rested back on the table, and the hero could see that it was a candid of Penny. Captain Hammer felt like an asshole.
Thirty minutes later, Billy got up and moved towards the bedroom. Hammer moved in the same direction, finding a window that gave him a clear view. Carefully staying out of sight, he continued surveillance. Billy pulled off his lab coat, and was left with sweat pants and a shirt. He walked into the bathroom and shut the door; the distinct sound of teeth brushing was heard. When Billy finally emerged again, he made his way towards the bed and pulled off his shirt. Hammer knew he should look away, but something caught his eye before he got the chance to. Billy's back was to the window, and Captain Hammer could see every single rib. It became clear that the frumpy lab coat wasn't just used to make the man more sinister. But that wasn't all. In the dim light of the room, Hammer could make out faint, barely visible marks on the villain's back.
The hero felt sick.
After days of watching Billy, it became clear that something was seriously wrong. The death of Penny had obviously broken Billy in ways that even Captain Hammer couldn't comprehend. He wasn't even sure if a therapist could help him now, the jagged pieces of what once had been a bright young man had been ground to dust by the looming shadow of Doctor Horrible.
Captain Hammer had stopped a few of Doctor Horrible's ploys in result of his spying, but he felt as though he was cheating by doing so. He tried to convince himself that it didn't matter, that there was no cheating when it came to fighting evil, but the excuse sounded hollow. What kind of sicko spied on a grief stricken man?
As time passed, it became clear that both Hammer and Billy had suffered from the events of the ceremony those many months ago… but while the hero had been forced into therapy and had gotten better, Billy just broke in silence. There truly was no rest for the wicked.
During the times that Captain Hammer staked out Billy's apartment into the evening hours, he witnessed Billy's restless sleep so much like his own. But while Captain Hammer used to wake up in a cold sweat, Billy woke up screaming. The hero could just barely make out what the man was saying. Penny.
Doctor Horrible was mixing chemicals without his gloves on. Captain Hammer knew that this was just another way to self destruct; the fumes irritated and burned the sensitive skin of his hands and were extremely dangerous. The Doctor seemed to relish in the pain.
He looked over into his notes, scratching his chin with the hand that wasn't holding a beaker of fizzing liquid. The Doctor made a sudden move to grab another vile off of a Bunsen Burner, and his elbow knocked over a Petri dish filled with, well, something Captain Hammer couldn't identify. The glass shattered onto the cluttered lab bench, but Doctor Horrible didn't seem to notice. He looked back at his notes, putting his unused hand straight down into the glass and chemicals. Hammer winced, knowing it must hurt, but the Doctor didn't even flinch. He only noticed his hand was being mutilated when the blood started staining the notes. He slowly picked his hand out of the mess of chemicals, debris and blood and held it up to his face impassively. Shards were sticking out of it, and blood was trickling down his wrists and onto his lab coat. He seemed thoroughly fascinated, and grinned as the now steadily flowing blood made no stain on his already blood red garment. Captain Hammer shivered.
Captain Hammer couldn't sleep.
He could only see Doctor Horrible, soulless eyes gleaming and mouth twisting into a maniacal smile as his blood pooled onto the floor around him.
It was a Wednesday. He hadn't been to the Homeless Shelter since Penny had taken him on their first date. He had thought it was stupid back… then… but now he could see how admirable Penny really was. She was ahead of her time. He hadn't loved her, he still didn't, but at least now he could appreciate what she did.
Billy had always appreciated her.
Hammer's chest felt like it was going to implode.
It was a Wednesday when he walked into the homeless shelter. He sat down at a corner table, not getting any food, just content to watch the world go by without him.
Penny had been the hero. At least he could see that now.
Captain Hammer's eyes roved the scene, and fell upon a familiar hunched form of a black clad man.
It was Billy.
Curious, he moved over to where the scientist was sitting. The man didn't look up when the hero sat across from him.
"Go away," he said, voice thick. Definitely Billy then. "I'm not here to make any trouble."
"I know." Hammer acknowledged. An uncomfortable silence fell over them. "What are you doing here?" Billy didn't answer at first, but his face began to twitch with familiar awkwardness. Hammer had missed that twitch.
"I come here every Wednesday and Saturday," he said quietly, still not looking up from the thin soup he was eating. Hammer supposed there was a significance to the statement that he didn't understand. "What are you doing here?" he said, sounding bitter.
"Watching," he said noncommittally. What was he doing here?
"Well, can you leave me alone?" Billy asked, sounding strained by the close proximity with the man who used to threaten and try to kill him on a regular basis. Hammer remembered the marks on Billy's back with a lurch of his stomach.
"I'm sorry," he stammered, beginning to back away from the shivering man. They were attracting attention, which wasn't helping Billy's twitch or trembling. Trying to distract from his panic, the blond haired man reached for the pepper shaker, allowing the sleeve of his slightly too short hoodie to ride up. The skin that was revealed caused Hammer's eyes to widen.
Quick as lightening, the hero reached forward and grabbed Billy's arm, pushing up the sleeve to expose more of the arm. Pink scars, days, weeks, months old at best littered the skin. Billy turned paler, if possible.
"I…" Billy started, but trailed off. There was nothing to say. They stayed in that position, neither of them moving, until finally Hammer spoke.
"Who did this to you?" he hissed, and it was a rhetorical question. It seemed to catch Billy off guard, and he bit his lip slightly before his face suddenly transformed into a horrific sneer.
"I did," Doctor Horrible snarled, before Billy resurfaced again, looking horrified and ashamed.
"You can't control him anymore, can you?" Hammer said softly, slowly letting go on the blue eyed man's arm. "He started out as a front, a way to direct your goals and ambitions. When Penny died, he became a convenient shield to hide behind, am I right? But then, Doctor Horrible got a mind of his own. He took over. It's so easy for you to feel nothing while he goes through the motions for you. You gave him too much power."
Billy looked dumb founded, and then he turned his eyes downward.
"I've failed," he said softly. "All I wanted to do was change the world, and have the girl of my dreams. But I screwed up," he choked out. "And now, he's running my life for me. It was so easy, too easy, but now I want it to stop and it won't stop. It's all my fault." Billy ran his hands over his face and Hammer was drawn to the dark circles under the tortured man's eyes, so much like his own.
"No," Hammer said, no longer the man he was before, no longer uncaring and irresponsible and violent. "No. I created Doctor Horrible. And I'm sorry." Without another word, Hammer turned on his heel and left the shelter, left the broken Billy to his fading memories of Penny's innocent hopes and dreams.
This is actually the heaviest thing I've ever written, wow. I'm glad it's over. Feedback's appreciated!