And then the winch squeals, his hand on the switch, and Lucila drops another foot or two. He's taunting me, testing me, and for Lucila's sake I make a decision. I dart for him, ready to drag him out to the police.
My arms go around him and it's like I'm hugging him anyway, the closest we've ever been. I can't help but mutter his name, just once, packing all my frustrations into the one word because good God damn it what else am I going to say? The idea that this is our courtship flashes across my mind, wooing me like an eight-year-old boy tormenting his first crush with frogs and snakes. Except he's a villain, so instead of amateur herpetology, he indulges in kidnapping and ransoming the only other object of my affections. I want to laugh and weep, both at the same time. There just aren't words for how fucked up we are.
But his hand's still on the switch, and as I bear him down the switch goes with us. Lucila descends with a muffled yell of surprise and a splash.
He tells me to hurry, grinning up at me despite the fact that I'm halfway choking him. So confident even when I've got him on the ground and at my mercy. How?
Useless to ask that question. I know how. The difference between a frustrated and pitiful nobody, and an accomplished, brilliant villain. Months and miles.
I'm already letting him go before I even think about it, and he leans up to kiss my cheek. Lightly, like old friends meeting. He laughs, declares that "We'll meet again!" That it isn't over.
It isn't, but I'm even more conflicted now, even as I rush to save Lucila and he disappears the second my back is turned. I don't care. Trusting that the place has some kind of drain set into the floor somewhere, even if I haven't spotted it, I fly up to the rim of the vat and yank, hard. The seams pop and break, and soon it's torn wide open, whatever horrible toxin inside spilling out onto the warehouse floor. I look in for Lucila, hoping to snatch her before she washes out with it, hoping she's not too hurt—