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18+ Language Violence

Face to Face Chapter One

by shima


Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language and violence.

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 enough.

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 favor.

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 Seven arrived.

“Butcher, you take Miyashiro with you. I’ll hold them off and then join you later.”

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 could.

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 anymore.

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 singular person.

Stormfront.

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 was crystal.

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 traitor?

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 wanted.

Unveiling the horrifying truth of it all.

That Annie’s most private fantasy had become reality in the lounge the moment Stormfront opened her mouth.

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.



Cheek to cheek, the bittersweet, commit your crime in your deadly time


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Thu Jun 01, 2023 10:18 am
MerleBlackbird wrote a review...



Well, I can say your tone and mood are on point for following that of the show. This writing definitely reflects the grotesque realism and the whole set of characters without even one you can really entirely like. Personally, I fairly disliked the show (I only watched the first season), so as soon as I saw the name 'Homelander' I knew this wasn't going to be for me. However! I will say your writing is actually really impressive. You use dialogue really well (just enough of it, and you know when to drop dialogue tags) and your description feels natural, informative, and not over the top. I like how you very sentence length and you built a great pace in this chapter. Great work overall!




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Fri May 26, 2023 8:49 am
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IcyFlame wrote a review...



Hi shima!

Happy Friday! I'm preparing for both Review Day this weekend and our #TeamTortoise event next month by stretching my reviewing muscles and I thought I would check out this piece! It's nice to come across something in the Green Room that's only on the first chapter because it means I haven't missed anything in the story yet, but I must admit I don't have any knowledge of the original material so I can't comment on whether things are in character - I'll have to treat it like any other novel!

I like that you've started this with an action scene; it throws us right into the thick of things and serves as a hook to engage your reader and introduce us to the central conflict. It also immediately presents a dilemma for the protagonist and raises questions about her moral choices and the consequences she might face so I'm drawn in from the start.

The whole chapter focuses well on Annie's actions and then the aftermath, and I think it sets up her character well for any future chapters. I think you've done well at portraying Annie's emotional turmoil and also the conflict within her character, allowing readers to empathize with Annie's guilt and self-doubt. It's a strong start!

I don't have any specific areas to improve, but I did notice that as I was reading through this there were quite a few sentences that feel overly long and complex, which kind of disrupted the flow of the narrative. Breaking them up or using shorter sentences would create a better rhythm and make the writing more accessible, imo!

I can't help but feel that the inclusion of Stormfront and her peculiar interest in Annie suggests maybe an alliance or threat in the future, but I think all the characters in this sound interesting! If I get a chance later, I'm going to have a quick internet search of some of them to give me a bit more context for what I've just read xD

Hope this was helpful, and have a great rest of your day!

Icy





Love is not an emotion. Love is a promise.
— 12th Doctor