Annie tentatively raised her hands, preparing to attack. Every single
neuron in her head fired at once screaming at her that this was not how she did
things. She was not a killer.
“Oh, for god’s sake, it’s easy.” Homelander smiled, grabbing her hands. “Hands
in the air, like you just don’t care.”
She locked eyes with the green-suited man in front of them, trying to
understand, to rationalize.
Seeing her hesitation, Homelander continued, still so chipper and so positive.
“More incentive? Okay. You kill him or I’ll fucking kill you both. Do it.”
It seemed he enjoyed this way too much, and it made her want to puke.
But her mind blocked out any outside sensations, and it felt like he was
far, far away.
She solely focused on the Deep’s face, the man resigned to his fate. But even
now, he wasn’t afraid. The Deep looked at her with scorn and resentment, even
hate. He knew this would happen. That she wasn’t strong
His gaze focused as if challenging her to do it. Testing her, daring her.
She hoped, to some extent, that Butcher would jump out any second now and stop
her. Save the Deep. She briefly tore her gaze away from the fellow Supe towards
the entrance to the tunnels, as if trying to force the events by thinking about
them hard enough.
But no one came, the seconds passing by at a dreadfully slow pace.
Finally, she stretched out her arms, feeling tears falling down her face.
The heat poured up out of her body and surged through her arms. A river,
bubbling up from inside, scolding her flesh. Her fingertips burned. The room
shined like a star about to go supernova. The Deep’s face vanished in the
shining, scorching white light.
Not just him. Everything disappeared for a moment. The tunnels, Homelander,
and, of course, herself.
And then the glow faded, the darkness slowly dripping back in, reclaiming
its place. The Deep wasn’t moving anymore. His green-suited body collapsed to
the ground with a soft thud. Looking at what she had done, Annie felt a wave of
terror pushing down on her. She had to swallow the bile building up in her
throat, forcing its way out.
Homelander laughed, and out of the corner of her eye, she could see his
idiotic smile. His hard, muscular, stoic, All-American jaw beamed, the
pearly-white teeth nearly glowing in the dark.
“Atta girl.” He slightly tapped her on the back.
After a second, the air slightly rippled, and he was gone.
Leaving her alone with the Deep’s corpse.
Butcher would probably never forgive her for this.
Despite everything that had happened, he still liked the Deep - Kevin - a lot.
More than most supes.
The Deep was their inside man at the very beginning when the Boys had first
formed. Before her, before Hughie.
Oh god. What would he think? She was now a killer. Not better than the
rest of the Seven.
She looked once again into the Deep’s dark, empty eyes, thinking back to
their first patrol together. Annie heard his voice congratulating her for
joining the team and being genuinely flattered when she told him he was her
favorite out of the group. Complaining to her about the pointless ratings, and
how much he hated his role as the token fish guy.
But that was then, and this was now. Breathing in, she leaned against the wall,
wiping her tears away with her hand. In a couple of minutes, the rest of the
Seven would be here, and then Vought, already prepared to spin it in their
As if that would make it easier.
The Boys got away. Miyashiro, the brother of Kimiko, didn’t make it,
however. Homelander cut him in half on the roof of some tenement.
The blue-suited Supe’s anger never seemed to fade, and for some twisted
and strange reason, it comforted Annie.
She didn’t know how she made it through the rest of the day,
disassociating from her true self, a soulless robot, doing everything as
programmed. Not thinking, barely feeling.
Her human form shrunk, disappearing into the dark pit inside her, fading into
the atrocious golden leotard the guys over at Vought had designed for her.
Annie was gone for most of the day, and only Starlight remained.
It was she who answered the questions asked by the demanding press with a
cold, neutral voice, spitting out the pre-recorded statements as if they were
some particularly disgusting meal.
“Was it difficult? You went on record that he was your favorite out of
the Superhero team, with you joining up on patrols multiple times.”
Her face contorted into a fake Hollywood smile, Starlight pushed the
plastic answer out of her chest, into her mouth, barely stopping herself from
gagging on it.
“Yes, but a traitor is a traitor. I just had to remind myself of how much
was at stake. Of how important this was for the future of the superhero team.”
What about your future, Annie? Ever thought of that?
The glitzy camera flashes blinded her, bringing her back to her own
shining light as she ended the Deep’s life.
Every single breath – every moment – brought her back to that point, him sitting
there, defeated, tired, broken. After Stormfront used her powers to split the
whale he summoned wide open to let the Seven pass through.
She remembered his last words echoing in her ears. Still repeating
themselves from beyond the grave, on hellish, horrifying repeat, a record that
she wanted to tear out of her brain and smash to a thousand pieces. It was her
punishment for trying to help the Boys, to warn them, before the rest of the
“Butcher, you take Miyashiro with you. I’ll hold them off and then join
He sat there, brave, jumping out of the water in the path of Stormfront
and Homelander, barely an obstacle for the two supes.
And then, him, covered in viscera and organs, crying at the loss of
another innocent animal life. Looking at Homelander, spitting in his face.
Homelander’s strong, muscular hands wrapped tight around her arms. Him
pushing Annie beyond her breaking point, forcing her to do what she never
And The Deep looking back at her in disgust. As if saying, “I always knew
you were a coward.”
Maybe she always has been.
Butcher’s words cut through her like a burning blade, pushing her to the
edge of tears. Even her best attempts at trying to repress it, to bury herself
as deep as she could inside her own flesh and skin, could not prevent it
They caught up with her outside the studio. The rest of the Boys were still in
their van, and only Butcher and Hughie came out to talk to her.
“You couldn’t have stopped Homelander, huh? You couldn’t have pushed him
to the side, or I don’t know” he turned around, hands lifted high “used your
fucking powers, you stupid cunt? Oh, wait. You did.” His smarmy, sarcastic tone
was the last thing she needed right now.
She wanted to punch the man in the face for saying this, but she could not. Her
own hands refused to help her, for she knew he said the truth.
She should’ve done anything else but this.
Fool. Coward. Weakling. Those were the words that perfectly described who she was at that moment.
“I don’t know why we ever trusted you to begin with.” Butcher finished, not
even trying to hide how disgusted he was with Annie at this moment.
You shouldn’t have.
Hughie didn’t speak to her at first, staying silent until Butcher
finished his tirade and sat back in the van.
“Listen, Annie, I – “she stopped him mid-sentence, leaning into his shoulder,
tears flowing out of her eyes.
Hughie’s touch was soft, and he smelled of dirt and mold. “I could’ve saved
him. I should have. Instead, I took the easy way out. I’m pathetic.” She
stuttered, water dripping down her cheeks.
He looked at her, shocked, before leaning in and hugging her. “Here,
here, let it all out.” She smiled at him through the pain and the tears. But
somehow, Hughie seemed different.
Despite what he says, his eyes give it away. He feels just like Butcher.
She was sure of that.
After a minute, Hughie let go, muttering some excuse about how they still had
work to do.
Annie then stood there for several minutes, looking at the van racing away.
Was this it? Did they finally see her for what she was all along? Or was
there still some hope left?
Arriving at the Tower later that night, she found it empty, except for a
The brunette was hanging off the couch in the lounge, browsing her
Twitter, before registering Annie’s presence. Smiling, she rose, strolling over
to the blonde. Annie tried to hurry away, not really in the mood for one of her
preachy speeches. But then Stormfront opened her mouth.
“Heard what you did with the Deep. Congratulations. Couldn’t have done it
better myself, sweetheart.” Hearing this, Annie froze in place.
Stormfront seemed to be proud of her.
Somehow. Proud that she finally became what the rest of the Seven already
were: cold-hearted butchers with barely any consciousness to speak of.
Stormfront stood painfully close to her, her hands brushing against
Annie’s exposed arms. The leather felt strangely pleasant on her skin, as
Stormfront’s intense, dark gaze focused on the blonde.
It made Annie shiver inside. Two icy black orbs looked through her as if she
Stormfront leaned in, their cheeks touching, bitter cold against her warm
flesh. Making sure her mouth was precariously close to Annie’s ear, she
whispered, delicately, in a softened voice. “I hope it isn’t your last. I would
love to see more.” Annie pulled back, her face now contorted into a grimace of
disgust, before running out of the lounge.
Stormfront’s cackling voice echoed in her ears the entire way back to her
apartment: “I meant it as a compliment!”
Lying in her bed that night, she could barely breathe, her own chest
cavity choking her, crushing her under its weight.
Annie wanted to put her hands around it, rip it out, demolish it under
her heel. But it was impossible. That strange feeling wasn’t some outside force
making its home in her chest, no. It was a part of her.
She was a killer.
She’d murdered him—her friend, a fellow Supe, the first person who ever
gave her positive reinforcement within the Seven.
Her childhood hero. His poster was one of the first things she bought for
herself as a teen.
And she killed him to save her own worthless life.
Without even hesitating for a minute.
And all the press conferences and the Vought lies couldn’t change it. She
wasn’t who they made her out to be. Her actions weren’t just or worthy of
praise and celebration. She wasn’t brave or courageous. She was the dirt in
which they would bury the Deep, if not worse.
Butcher was right in hating her.
And Hughie was too. Could he ever love her again? No. No way.
He wouldn’t be that wrong. Who could, when your lover was a killer and a
But then some strange, disgusting alien sentiment began climbing upwards,
pushing its way through from the pit inside her brain where she had buried it.
That place where people hid their worst nightmares and their most horrid desires.
And she realized, shocked, that she had enjoyed Stormfront’s compliment.
A despicable worm now nested deep inside her bone marrow, whispering in her ear
and telling her to revel in this.
Teasing her that this was what she always had
Unveiling the horrifying truth of it all.
That Annie’s most private
fantasy had become reality in the lounge the moment Stormfront opened her
She had pursued Stormfront’s appreciation ever since the brunette became
part of the Seven. Hating every minute of Stormfront nearly mocking her, seeing
Annie as weak and spineless.
A pushover, not worthy of her time.
But apparently, all it took for it all to change was for her to kill the one
man on the team who genuinely seemed to like her.
Shocked, she turned to the side, pushing these
thoughts away. Her sleep was short and restless.
to cheek, the bittersweet, commit your crime in your deadly time