last01standing: ([Psych] Psychman)
[personal profile] last01standing
Title: Reaction Mechanism
Rating: PG
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Mutant Enemy nor the Evil League of Evil
Summary: Anyone can be a villain. That's just a matter of making a choice.
Author’s note: Originally written for Yuletide for [ profile] hopefulnebula. Reposted here for your enjoyment.

Reaction Mechanism

It's weird having a heist actually go right. Weird as in uncomfortable. Weird as in almost boring.

This is everything he ever wanted, right?


The first real science experiment Billy ever performs is a flame test in his tenth grade chemistry class. The instructions are to dip a paper clip into water, coat it in a variety of different metals and then put the paperclip in the fire. Strontium turns the flame red. Copper turns it green. Sodium is a bright, almost blinding yellow. Billy is fascinated by the character of the flame changing at his will.

And yeah, he might have gotten a little careless, a little over excited and maybe, just maybe it's his fault the flame finds its way to Melissa Keener's skirt.

The flicks of red and green and gold mingling with the screams feels like Christmas come early.


There's not a six-year-old kid in the world who wants to be a supervillain when he grows up. No, they want to be heroes. They want to be big and strong and powerful. They want to fly.
Billy is no exception. He wants to fly. He wants to swoop in and save the day. He wants the power to make the right choices for everyone in the world. He wants to be a superhero.

He mother laughs at his red cape, ruffles his hair and tells him little boys can't be superheroes. Tells him it takes a very special person to be a superhero.

Even then Billy knows the meaning behind the words. It takes a very special person to be a superhero and Billy is not a very special person.


Villains on the other hand, anyone can be a villain. That's just a matter of making a choice.


They ask him to slaughter a pig for his induction into the Evil League of Evil. It's large and pink and squealing and the knife in his hands is silver and wickedly sharp. This isn't his style. It has never been his style. He doesn't like blood and death. He likes neat crimes, bizarre robberies pulled off in broad daylight. Not shrapnel shattering the scene and a girl shaking as blood seeps through the fabric of her dress.

Bad Horse whinnies with annoyance. Fake Thomas Jefferson sniffs and says, "Hurry up, Doctor, we're starving."

Dr. Horrible slams the knife into the pig's neck with such force that the point of the blade shows out the other side. Professor Normal smiles and Dead Bowie shakes his hand.

Later, back at his laboratory, Billy throws up three times and doesn't sleep for a week.


Billy joins the Young Democrats on his college campus and sits through an entire semester of meetings just listening to the talk about reform and global social change. They have fundraisers and mixers and debates but nothing ever happens. They talk and talk and talk but the world remains exactly the same. By the last meeting, Billy is fidgeting wildly every time someone says immediate reform. He laughs out loud when someone talks about a movement for change and the entire club turns to stare at him.

The president of the club eyes him suspicious and says, "Billy, do you have anything to say?"
Flushing red, Billy shoves his hand in the pockets of his sweat shirt, stands up and stammers, "We need to actually do something. It's just we keep talking and talking but we need to actually..." He blinks twice. "To make a motion for change, we need to actually move."
The president is quiet for a long moment and then she says, "Yes, I think Billy's right. We need to actually start to mobilize."

But it turns out they don't have the same concept of mobilization. For Billy it's action and decisiveness. For the Young Democrats it's drafting a letter to their congressman that they will never actually send.

Billy walks sullenly out of the meeting and never comes back.


He has a notebook he keeps hidden in a seam in his mattress entitled, If I Ruled the World.

It has been there since he was fourteen and it gets longer and more elaborate with every passing year.

The only way he's ever going to get is change if he makes it happen himself. You can't trust other people with anything.


In his sophomore year he starts stealing chemicals from the stockroom. Hydrochloric acid and ethanol and tert-butyl amine and everything he can get his hands on. He lines his backpack with tissue paper and packing peanuts and smuggles thousands of dollars of lab equipment to his apartment off campus.

No one notices. No one suspects a thing of sweet Billy with his stutter and his hoodie who can't look a girl in the eyes without turning beet red.


He is pictured on the front page of thirteen different newspapers carrying Penny's body out of the homeless shelter. Every single one of them mistakes the look of complete shock on his features for apathy.


He's a year out of college when he plans his first major heist. He decides to take down a post office because he likes the idea of destroying mail. Likes the small measure of control that comes from destroying the written word. He plans the attack on a day the political candidates are making a mass mailing.

It's early in the days of Dr. Horrible, back when he was wearing blue plastic lab goggles pilfered from his chemistry class and a lab coat still smudged with smoke from the fire.

Captain Hammer heads him off when he's in the mailroom. He calls him a dastardly villain, foils his plan and dislocates his shoulder for the first of many times.

Hours later, beaten and sore, Billy drags himself to his web cam and posts a blog entry about Captain Hammer's immense stupidity and misguided attempts at heroism.

But even though the heist was a spectacular failure, there's an odd sense of accomplishment growing in his stomach that he really hopes isn't his lungs filling slowly with blood.

It means he's doing something great enough to be noticed. He applies to the Evil League of Evil for his first time and redoubles his efforts.


Senior year of college, Billy blows up his apartment.

He doesn't do it on purpose. Really. There are just a lot of chemicals lying around, many of which are improperly stored in corroded containers. Not to mention the half finished attempt at a stun gun, lying with broken circuitry on his lab bench, sparking at random intervals.

He didn't do it on purpose, but he's sure been asking for it.

Standing, eyebrowless, outside his smoking apartment he shoves his hands in his pockets and thinks every supervillain needs an origin story same as superheroes.

And thinks: This is his.


The heists keep going well. Every one of them. He is terrifying now. He has dispatched Captain Hammer's girlfriend and he thinks that might have earned him more notoriety then slaying the tool himself. The villainy is so easy it isn't even fun anymore. He stops doing the blog. He has nothing to say.

The city is bowing before him. The Evil League of Evil has accepted his application. He is in a position of power. He has everything he ever wanted.

(he doesn't want it anymore)


He falls in love with Penny on the second Tuesday in November. He's taking his lab coat into the cleaners, hidden buried beneath his street clothes in a desperate attempt to get the blood from his last encounter with Captain Hammer out of the fabric. His nose is broken and bruised and it hurts to breathe and he sees her three washers over, smelling one of her freshly cleaned shirts and it's like there are hearts doodled all around her.

It's cheesy and stupid and Billy hates himself for it.

It's not something a super villain should consider. Heroes get the girls. This is a losing battle.


Billy loves fighting losing battles.


He's in the Evil League of Evil for three months before Bad Horse gives him his chance to make things right. He's babbling—babbling evilly—about the prospect of time travel and just how much evil he can do in the past. He's thinking of Penny smiling and Penny dying and Penny in the Laundromat and Penny kissing Captain Hammer.

And Bad Horse turns to him and tells him it's a wonderfully fantastic idea that should be implemented as soon as humanly possible.

Okay, what Bad Horse actually does is look at him and whiney. Billy might be translating just a little.


The time machine works but the mission is a disaster. He tries to warn himself, the younger, miserable, but entirely content Dr. Horrible, but his younger self hits him with a full blast of the freeze ray and then later Captain Hammer knocks him out cold in the snow. He wakes up face down in the snow with a concussion and a dislocated shoulder and a slight stutter from the imperfect freeze ray's blast. He stands up and brushes the snow off his blood red lab coat. So far, this plan has been one spectacular failure after another.

Across the street in the Laundromat he catches the sight of red hair and pastel colored shirts. He smiles.

Everything as it should be.


(no subject)

2/1/09 04:26 (UTC)
ext_47: a wolf looking at reflection in a lake (butterflies)
Posted by [identity profile]
I blame reading through all of the fics late last night for not realizing that this was not yours right away. (Timetravel! Blowing this up!) I like part were Billy says that he likes to fight the losing battle and that in the end, he does end up saving the girl. Great job (I also recced it on my journal here.)

(no subject)

8/1/09 02:07 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
I kind of liked that I'm being secret Yuletide vibe. It gave me a good giggle. And thank you so much for the rec. I saw that and it really made me smile.

(no subject)

2/1/09 08:43 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Lovely work. I don't know how I missed it, it's so you.

(no subject)

8/1/09 02:07 (UTC)
Posted by [identity profile]
Why thank you very much.