You’re not entirely sure why you find Mr. Compress attractive. For god’s sake, he’s literally covered from head to toe. Are you attracted to clothing? Is that a thing?
No, you’re pretty sure you’re attracted to him (because being attracted to clothing is not something you want to contemplate—how would you explain that to anyone? You’d have to live in the metaphorical closet).
You’re just a small-time hero and the only reason you know he exists is because you’ve crossed paths three times previously, but only briefly. You didn’t even know his villain name until recently. As an upholder of the law, you know that nothing can happen between you.
And yet, when fortune smiles upon you and you cross paths yet again, your stupid mouth blurts out:
“Are you a magician?”
Standing above out of your reach on top of a light pole, his replay is instant and dry. “I am, as a matter of fact. Thank you for noticing.”
Mortification. You can feel your face heating up and you have a strong urge to find a hole to crawl into a die.
What are you supposed to do when someone gives your pickup line a legitimate answer? And why did you even say it in the first place?!
Unable to keep facing him, you bury your face in your hands. “Kill me.”
“You’ve done nothing to warrant that, dear lady.”
Oh. God, he’s still here! Why, why won’t he just leave and let you peacefully melt into a puddle of shame?
A length of awkward silence passes, and you hope that he’s gone.
“…Ah. Pardon me, but I’ve only just realized: was that a pickup line?”
Your face is still burning in humiliation, but you manage to gather the will to lift your head. You want to deny it, but denying it would only make things worse. So you come clean.
“Yes. It was.”
His mask is pointing down in your direction, his cane in hand.
“This is a first.”
Shit, is that amusement in his voice? Where is the convenient vehicle you can throw yourself in front of?
You don’t know what his thought process is or how else he might have reacted, for at that moment two others from the hero agency you work at are heard loudly approaching. They’re yelling something and you wonder what it is.
You look back up, but Mr. Compress is gone.
When your coworkers ask if you’ve seen anything, you tell them no.
And if you later ‘accidentally’ hit them across the head with your duffle bag back at the office, well, you feel that it’s justified.
He barely knew I existed. I knew some of the same people he knew, but I was a girl in the background, several degrees of separation removed.
~Rick Yancey, The 5th Wave