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(AntiHero) The Joke

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Antisepticeye’s only warning is a roar—loud and booming like a thunderclap.

A grin splits his face as he figures out what’s about to happen. Excitement coils in his belly as large, rough hands grasp his slim shoulders. A single second later, Jackieboy-Man is slamming the giggling Glitch against the wall, teeth bared and pure rage glowing in his sky blue eyes, “I can’t believe you-”

Anti cuts him off with a smirk, “It’s just sex, Jackie, no need ta be so prudish-”

“All week, all I have heard from ev’ry villain, henchman, and thief in t’is city is jokes about me sex life. And since t’e only person in t’is business I’ve ev’r had sex with is you, I know ye’ve been talking. What. Did. Ya. Fookin’. Say?”

The Deamon chortles, head lolling back in bored arrogance, “Ta whom, exactly? ‘Cause Ah’ve been saying many t’ings ta many people.”

Jackie growls in frustration and punches his fist through the wall. Anti continues to grin even as rubble falls onto his bruised shoulder. “Ev’ryone. All o' it. Now.”

The Villain snorts, “And here I t’ought you valued privacy.”

Anti!” the Hero practically howls; and, this time, it makes the addressed pause. There’s desperation in the red-clad man’s voice, as though he’s been driven to the breaking point by everyone else’s teasing. This idea is furthered by the fear his Villain can clearly see lurking in the depths of his otherwise angry eyes.

The Glitch’s excitement suddenly vanishes—replaced by a cold, sinking feeling.

He scowls and kicks the muscular man off him, inhuman strength balancing out his much smaller form—as per usual with them. He flips off gravity and floats, wasting precious energy to hover menacingly over the now confused Super.

“What’s wrong, H̶̢er҉͠͏o̢? Ashamed?” the Deamon giggles mirthlessly, eyes empty, “Do ye wish now t’at ya’d never fooked me?”

There’s a purr in his voice and a grin on his face but neither of them are honest. Jackie can see that; feel it in a way he can’t describe but is very familiar with.

“Do͜ ͠y̧̛e ̴w̨͟҉a̡n͏t̵̸͟ ͟͏t͠a ̵ta̸k̷e͏̨ ̡i̴͝t͜ b͑̂̿̊ͫ͗̈́̀ͤ͏̴͕̗a̛̖͔͍̱̜̱̟͓ͪ̉̅͡ͅc̡͖̩̯̦͕̤̖̠͙̈̏͜͡k̸̆͊͑̋͟҉͖̜̫̟͈?̶”

Anti’s angry; or, at least, he seems angry. All of the usual signs are there: the high frequency static, the ear splitting whine that almost always accompanies it, the abnormally strong glitches that make him look terrifyingly sharp and jagged; but it all feels hollow. It reminds Jackie of pretty words lilting over bare coffins.

His Glitch is hiding something beneath that anger...

Just as he hid fear and humiliation beneath his...


Understanding, now, what he has to do, Jackie slowly stands up.

“No,” he answers, throat dry but tone firm. “I don’t; I just want ta know why.”

Anti appears confused.

“Why’d ye tell everyone?” Jackie tries to stay calm as he asks, “Was it a joke?”

Now, the Evil Entity seems shocked.

“Were ya just makin’ fun o’ me? Tha’ whole night?” He’s pretty sure he’ll cry.

His Villain’s still silent.

Jackie deflates. “Ye just did it caus’ ya knew it’d be easy... didn’t you?”

“... Easy?” Anti finally speaks, voice quiet and hoarse. “Ya t’ink t’at was easy?” His giggles sound bitter and forced—and Jackie finally realizes that he was hurt. “Ta go ta yer lil He̵r͞o̵ H͜o̧̡m̛͘e̸̶ wit’out so much as a knife ta me name? Ta t̡͞ru̡ş̨t͢ ya? Ta believe t’at after all the times ya’ve b̡̡e͜a͏t̶͞e̴̕͜n͏҉ and a̡͢b̶̕us̛͝e͘d̸͘ me, t’rown me away, t’at ye wouldn’t? Aft’r I’ve done g̛i̷͘vi͢n̶͜͜’̧͟͝ y̴̧a̕͞ ̕̕̕e̶̶ve̸͏̕r̴͘y̵̢t̕͟'̶͜͠i̴n͠g̢? Ye t’hink t’at was Ė̷͕̜̼̣͍̣̱́ͬͪͫ̆̅̉͘̕͝ͅͅA̡͍͈͉̘̱̪̓̐̿̃̿̅͊̔͋̃̇̈̓̿ͪͨ͝͠ͅS̛͙̱͔̦͓̳̮̞̟̩̗̦̪̘̝̦͙̬̼̎ͧͫͯ̃̃ͨ̍̆̓ͤ̓͌ͤ͝Y̸̧̰͈̙̼̦̹̰͉̙̪̼̤̮̠̥͖͌͑̽͆̾̓̾͡͠‽”

It’s Jackie’s turn to be silent.

Anti’s laughter now sounds a bit like sobbing, “A̞͓̱̥̘͐̃̆͑͒̅̿ḣ͍ ͇̭͂͛͐̽̚g͇̞̹̰̬͔ͧͤŭ̩̗̫̖̬͈̓ͨe͓̜̐s͓͕̦̦̥ͫs̤̘̟̥ͅ ̲̟̱͍̙̱̪̃i̛̞͔̣̽ͨṫ̷̩̙͔̘͙̦̿̊ͧ̍̎ ̝̻̫͙͈̯͊w̛̫̻ͦ́̎̾̂a̓ṡ̘ ̲͈̟̗͈̻̾̎ͭͧ͌͢aͣ̑̕ ̋͡j̞̘͌̚oͯͯ̒͆҉̲̤̥̠̭̝͖k̺̤̞͖̳͈e̝̩̰̗̣̗̎,̨͕͙̽ͧ̿̉͆̿̈́ ̛ͫt̰’e̯̳̣͇̼͇͖̍n͎̓̇ͧ́̿̚!͓̦̳̦̪̞͖ͭͩ̍ͨ̐̋”


The two of them stand in an uneasy silence.

The only thing companionable about it is how hurt they both seem to be.

The truth sort of hits Jackie like One-Punch Man: all the villains, henchpeople, and thieves—ALL OF THEM—had been teasing him to show them support; otherwise, they’d just have beaten him, threatened him, or done away with him.

The Hero had been so busy being embarrassed and afraid... he’d been blind.


“I’m sorry.”

Anti sniffs and tries to hide his pitch black tears while still looking toward Jackie. He’s pretty sure he’s failed spectacularly—and his eyes are probably all black—but he doesn’t really care. He hiccups bitterly, instead; of course, he’s sorry; why’d the Hero of Brighton ever want to be with its damned boogeyman?

He’s even green like boogers!

The Villain just laughs at himself—at his dead hope—and turns to leave. Jackieboy-Man stops him. It’s the second time those large hands feel gentle; that night was the first. Antisepticeye tries not to think about it as he pulls away; that’ll just cause this all to hurt more—and it’ll blacken his entire face with blood.

But Jackie’s grip—gentle as it is—is too strong, “I was scared.”

The Glitch stops, surprised by that admission. Jackieboy-Man is never afraid! His Villain turns to look him in the eyes and ends up finding stormy skies.

They stare back, honest and true, “Scared ya didn’t mean it, scared ya lied, scared ya didn’t like me back... Ah’m sorry I hurt ya; I jus’... wan’ed it ta be real.”

Anti stares. Then, he snorts. Finally, he laughs: full bellied, sadistic, and relieved, “Y̵a ͜f̴e̴c͟͝k̵e̴̷r!͜” He covers his flushed, basically black, face and whines at the irony: “I͕̕t̮̠̹ ̥̘̪̬̼͝w̳̝͍a̴s̗̯̞̙͖̭ ͓̲͕t̢̤͖͉͍̪͇̻’͠ę ͞m͢o̗̠̩̬̜͝s̬̞̙tͅ ̶r̭̮̙͖̥͍e̼̙̟͠a̼̤͜l̝̩͘ ҉̪̯t’̷̪͔̠i̟̤̼n̵̤̮g̡̗̪̖͕ ̟̜̻̲͜t̴̮̫̰̭̱a̯̙̖̤̠̟͡ ̸̻̦͚͙̯̼ͅe̝͖̩̯̤̹͢v̗’͍̳r ̨‘a̧̗͙̠͉͓̼̗p̥͍̪̟̩p̵̞̟̱̯͉̹e̥͙̥͔̰̪̬͟n̸͎̹͍ ͖̤͓t̷a̩͠ ̹͎͉͓̥m̩e͎̝͓̖̭!̸̳ͅ”

Jackie stares, loving how Anti’s black blood makes his eyes so bright, “Yea?”

The Deamon grins up at his Superhuman, “Y̵̩̹̙͕̾̏̂͛̊̒͘̕͢͜ẻ̡̧͙̞̜̙͍̝̹͖̻͌̉ͤ̌̓ͤ̋ͨ̈̇̿́̑͛̆̔̚͠ͅa̛ͬ̄̌͌ͫ̈́͛͐̈̆͝͏̴̞͙̘̮̦͚̙̪͚̦͉̟̝͟.”