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Midnight City

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The highlight of the Wondrous Visionary's day is when the Messenger arrives. Perhaps that says all that needs to be said as his position as the Mayor of Midnight City. He's a joke, the whole city knows he's a joke, and worst of all, even Visionary knows it. He does what he can, or what Slick will allow him to do, and he tries to make a difference. But there's so little he can do, and so much standing in his way.

But he feels different when she arrives in the mid-morning, ready to carry his correspondence out to the rest of the city, delivering a neat stack of messages that hold so much promise before they're opened. He feels like maybe he really is a Mayor, the kind who could make life good for his citizens, and one day break out from Spade Slick's thumb and legitimately help this city. The sort of man who could maybe win the heart of a beautiful woman.

"Good morning, Mr. Mayor!" The Proficient Messenger greets him, smiling broadly at the Visionary. She's so beautiful, and always so sharp looking in her uniform. He imagines her polishing her brass buttons every night, carefully washing and ironing her uniform until it's crisp and clean and new. It makes his heart flutter a little to think of her so dedicated and devoted.

"Good morning to you," He says, and happily takes the bundle of mail, exchanging it with the day's letters. WV's fingers brush against hers for a moment. It's the slightest of touches, but it makes his heart flutter all the same, "How are you this fine morning?"

"I am quite well!" The Messenger quickly flips through the messages, and he can almost see her mapping out her route in her mind. There's not a place in the city that she doesn't know, or doesn't go, and he has yet to have a single message go undelivered. Of course, he never sends her anywhere too dangerous. It's not that she wouldn't go, it's that he couldn't live with himself if something happened to her, "And yourself?"

"Same, just the same," Visionary means it when she's standing in this office. He's always at his best when she's around. Sometimes, even when he doesn't have messages to go out that day, he finds an excuse to write at least one piece of correspondence, just so she'll have a reason to return the next day, "Busy?"

"As busy as ever. You're still my best customer," She tucks the messages into her bag once she's sorted them into an order, and WV wonders how many other letters are in there, waiting to be delivered. It's strange, but his eyes are always drawn to her hands. They're so lovely and delicate, and yet so strong in their own way. He hastily draws his eyes up to her face when she asks him, "Anything else?"

WV steels himself. It's now or never. He's had her in this office so many times, exchanging pleasantries and messages, but he's never been able to work up the nerve to ask her if she would like to go for coffee, or perhaps a show, anything really. But today's the day. Today will be different.

"Yes. There is a gala happening next Thursday, and I am in need of a date," His heart is hammering in his chest but he plays it cool, doing his best to act as if this is completely normal, as if perhaps he always asks pretty girls to attend galas with him instead of attending alone, "I was wondering if you would like to attend?"

"Next Thursday?" He nods, and Messenger considers, and he waits in silent agony, hoping desperately that she'll say yes. Visionary wants nothing so badly as to spend just an evening with her, dancing and laughing, and listening to the speeches of others. When he goes up to give his own talk, he'll be able to look to her in the audience, and see her pretty face smiling back at him. Perhaps he could walk her home, take the long way through the fields and spend the evening moving among the fireflies, her hand held within his. Maybe even a chaste kiss at the door, but he doesn't want to press his luck. She's not that sort of girl and he'd never treat her that way.

When she doesn't answer right away, WV speaks up again, "I know galas are not terribly exciting, but it would be nice to have someone to visit with."

"It's not the gala. It would be a lot of fun," She looks at him, and there's something bordering on pity on her face, and his heart just sinks like a stone, even before she says a thing, "It's just... I already have plans that night with a... friend," Messenger hesitates before adding friend, and even though she's trying to be kind, the hesitation is almost worst than simply telling him she has already has a man in her life.

"Oh, of. Of course," Visionary tries to keep his voice light, even though he feels like an anchor's been tied to his heart, and that he's been drug down below the dark waters of misery, "Well, thank you anyway. It was just a thought-"

"If you're looking for a date, I know a few women," The Proficient Messenger suggests and he feels like crawling into a hole. He doesn't want other woman. He only wants her, "If you'd like, I could see if any of them are free."

"That would be nice, but, I would not worry," Visionary forces a smile, brushing aside the offer as quickly as he can, "I am sure I will find someone."

The door opens, and Slick strolls in like he owns the office. Which he does if WV is being honest with himself, "Vis, we need to talk- heeey there," Slick stops, head swinging around to look at the Messenger, "What's a dame like you doing in a shithole like this?"

The Proficient Messenger looks at Slick like he's a bit of mud clinging to the bottom of her boot, and glances back to Visionary, "Good day, I'll see you tomorrow."

"Of course, good day," He manages to say, watching her quickly walk out of the office and away from Slick. Visionary's slumps at his desk, feeling failure weighing heavily on his shoulders.

"Hey," Slick snaps his fingers, "Vis, was that girl with the gams?"

"Just... just the messenger," He reluctantly tells Slick, not wanting to give her name. Even though his heart's broken, the last thing he wants is for Slick to find her. He doesn't trust Slick, not one iota, especially not when it comes to the Messenger, "What do you want?"

"I'm just here to remind you to keep the police force under control," Slick leans against WV's desk, showing his utter disrespect for everything related to the mayor. Visionary hates when Slick leans against his desk, but there's nothing he can do to stop him. Speaking up might make Slick angry and when he's angry, people get hurt and they get hurt badly, "Some fucking idiot tried to give us a parking ticket yesterday."

"I will have a word with them," He says, not bothering to hide the disappointment in his voice. Nothing makes him feel lower than when Slick visits and reminds Visionary that no matter how he tries, he's still just someone else's puppet.

"What's got you all twisted up?" Slick reaches out, picking up the stack of letters and flipping through them. WV's skin crawls a little with Slick standing so close to him, "The dame who just left? She was a pretty one. You like her?"

"She is the messenger. Nothing more," WV's heart is aching in his chest. He can barely concentrate on Slick or the way he's playing with the mail. None of those letters matter anymore. How could he have been such a damned fool? That was stupid, incredibly stupid, and positively the dumbest thing he had ever done. Of course she has a man, of course there's someone else. Someone better than WV by far.

"Yeah sure, that's why you're all bent out of shape," Slick leans in, giving Visionary that sly smile of his that always spells out trouble, "Come on Vis, you've obviously got it bad for her. What's the problem?"

WV stares at his desk, fighting to keep his voice level when he's this upset and uncomfortable, the Messenger's rejection mixing with Slick's too-close presence, "There is no problem. And she is not free. She has a... friend."

"Friend huh?" He glances back to the doorway, as if perhaps part of her is still lingering there, "That's nothing that can't be changed. You want me to have a 'talk' with her man? I can have a 'talk' with her too-"

WV flushes, grabbing his letters out of Slick's hands and shouting at him, feeling a sudden overwhelming wall of rage at the thought of Slick standing anywhere near her, let alone speaking with PM, "Leave her alone!"

There's the snap of a switchblade and Visionary goes very still as he finds Slick holding the blade right against his throat. Slick's eyes Vis in a way that makes it clear that Slick's a second away from ending his life, "You're alive because you're useful. That doesn't mean I won't kill you if you start putting on fucking airs. You do what I tell you. And if I offer to do something for you, you don't start making demands. Got it?"

"Y-yes," WV doesn't nod, because if he nods, he'll cut himself, and he can't think of any worst last memory to have than Slick's foul smelling breath wafting in his face. Slick draws the blade back after a moment and Visionary swallows, "Sorry."

"Yeah, you fucking better be," Slick tucks the card away, straightening his jacket, "What's her name?"

"The Proficient Messenger," He reluctantly tells Slick, wishing he were a better liar or a braver man.

"You write me a letter, and when she comes around with messages tomorrow, you send her over to our place with it," Slick grins, and that cuts worse than the switchblade ever could, "Consider that payment for getting smart."

"Yes Slick," Visionary's voice is barely above a whisper. Slick nods and heads out, not bothering to giving WV another second of his time.

The Wondrous Visionary stays at his desk for a very long time, listening to the quiet tick of the clock. He doesn't bother to look at the correspondence. After all, it's not as if any of it will mean a damn thing. The sign on his door says mayor, but it might as well say nothing at all.