Down to Business

This will end, one way or another.

I slink through the many corridors of the AHO, listening with my good ear for even the slightest of sounds. Nothing. Not a sound reverberates through these dark halls.

I allow myself a breath. You're close, Bane. So very close. Azrael's around here somewhere, and when you find him, you can finally kill him.

I grin, thinking of how luxurious it will be to make him die in the most painful, prolonged death imaginable.

As gruesome images flash through my head, ways to kill him, I hear a noise down a little ways and duck inside a supply closet. Footsteps approach my door rapidly, and I hold my breath, prepared to end someone, but the footsteps continue on, not stopping. I exhale silently, then crack open the door a bit just in time to see a black feather float to the ground and a figure close some doors behind him. I tiptoe to the feather, pick it up, and examine it. I've got you now, Azrael.

In no time I have infiltrated a room that looks somewhat like an old-fashioned throne room. A large "throne" sits in the middle, with a huge electric glass chandelier hanging from the ceiling, along with a few other light fixtures. I stand with my back against one of the pillars, take a deep breath, and begin to step out from behind it. "Hello, Domino."

I burst through the dentist office doors and take the stairs down two at a time, jumping sideway over the rail once I get near the bottom. The halls are like familiar but unwanted enemies. Sprinting in the direction I know the stairs will be, my shoes squeak as I skid to a stop. I backpedal a few steps, my gaze resting on the metal doors of the elevator. Hm... four flights down stone stairs, or two minutes of elevator riding?

I've seen enough movies to know that something either goes wrong with the elevator halfway down, or the two minutes will drive me crazy because I'm holding still, but in the end I decide against the stairs. It should be faster taking the elevator.

I push the button, beginning to rethink my plan as the elevator takes a minute just to arrive at my floor. But I press on, entering, pressing the B4 button, and watching as the doors close. Immediately elevator music begins to play.

I impatiently look down at my watch-wait, I don't even have a watch!-tapping my foot.


Only three more floors to go.

I look up at where I know the hidden camera is located and, since I know no one would be in the control room for a while, decide it's okay to quietly hum "happy birthday" to myself. A war on your 18th birthday is probably the worst present you can get. To redirect my thought, I begin to imitate various kinds of animals.

Glancing at the floor indicator, I realise there is now only one floor left. Apparently I zoned out while trying to sound like a rabid duck, which, sadly, is nowhere near as good as Ethan's imitation. I'll have to ask him to teach me later.

By the time I arrive at my destination, I'm pounding my head against the wall while the eerily-pleasant-but-very-elevatory music plays. Even when you're only waiting for one floor, you get impatient when you have a lack of things to do. The doors begin to open and I start toward them. Then they stop. Six inches apart. Completely and totally... stop.

"OH, COME ON!" I repeatedly push the door open button to no avail, growing increasingly desperate. "I don't do small spaces!" I say in a strained voice. I try to squeeze through the space in between the doors, but I'm not skinny enough to actually get through. Lodging my shoulder in the space, I push with my shoulder and arm, forcing the doors apart. Finally a foot of space is created.

I stumble out and look back at the elevator once more, it's infuriating music still playing. "I'll be back. And when I come back, you'll be sorry." I realize that I'm now glaring at an elevator.

I force myself to keep going and get my mind focused back on the task at hand. Finding Bane.

I hear Azrael roar and know I'd better get in there quickly.

Pushing open the door, I stand in shock, realizing for the first time just how accurate my dream was. The flames licking the floor, Bane's blood-stained face, Azrael's assortment of deadly weapons. Bane has got that demonic smile on her face, but as soon as she turns and sees me, her smile turns into a scowl.

"Perseus, what are you doing here?" she demands through narrowed eyes. Azrael glares at me, but says nothing.

"Well, I was just taking a stroll and thought I would stop by-"

"Don't be sarcastic," Bane snarls, fully facing me.

"How would it possiblybenefit me to be sarcas-"

"Shut it."

"I thought you wanted me to tell you-"


"Can you heap slime?"

She stomps her foot and shoots the gun up at the ceiling. "That was a warning shot, James. Next time it will be aimed at you."

"Bane, I think you should-"

"I don't care what you think, Black! Just be qui-"


A second too late she whirls around and Azrael hits her over the head with the hilt of his sword. She crashes to the floor, shaking her head and attempting to get up. He steps on her back and forces her to the ground. "Very good, James."

"W-What?!" Bane stutters in outrage.

"What?" I repeat, keeping my eyes on his sword.

"That distraction was brilliant and unsuspected. You have done well."

I stare at him, baffled. Is he implying that I meantto help him?

"I am willing," he continues, "to forgive you for your past transgressions. To wipe the slate clean. All that I require..." He slides one of his knifes across the floor and it bumps into my foot. "Is that you kill Shadow's Bane."

I process what my father has asked me to do, and look from Bane to the knife. I pick up the knife.

I see fear flicker across Bane's face. She desperately tries to push herself off the ground, but my father only pushes her down harder. Once I am five feet away from her, she intertwines her ankle with Azrael's and pulls, bringing his foot from beneath him. He crashes to the ground, and Bane jumps up, slightly wobbly.

"Well, this is it then, huh? This is how it'll go down, Jam?" She glares at me, drawing her knife. "Suit yourself."

I ignore Bane, eyes locked on my target.

Quick as a flash, Bane slashes at me. I stagger back, looking from her to my father. "Your move," she sneers.

I glare at her, then throw my knife—at Azrael. Seeing as I've never been particularly good at throwing knives, it embeds itself in his shoulder instead of his chest.

He clutches his arm and shouts in outrage, "What are you doing?!"

"I DON'T KNOW! You're the one who didn't teach me how to throw sharp objects!" I struggle to keep myself from laughing.

Taking advantage of this momentary lapse in attention, Bane strikes again, skimming my cheek. I take a step back, she takes a step forward, closing in like a lioness on its prey.

"Uh, I don't really want to actually kill you… It would be nice to not die..."

"Either way, I need to rid myself of you. You continue to make things difficult. You should have just stayed away from here. You've seen what I've done to people in my mind. Now you will see what I can do in person from the best point of view you can get: on the other side of my blade."

"Actually, I think I'm going to leave you two to get over your problems…" I back towards the door.

"Oh, no you don't," I hear Azrael say from behind me. He blocks my path.

Bane's eyes aren't their usual bright blue. They are dark, stormy, and deadly navy blue. Her expression conveys more hatred than I could imagine a person could. She ties with Roger in the I hate everything, especially you, look.

"Aw, thanks, this is the bestbirthday ever." I back away from both of them, towards the wall. If I can get there, I can get away using the shadows…

"It's your birthday?" Bane repeats, puzzled, stopping momentarily. "How come I didn't know this before-" She shakes her head, and comes toward me again. "Okay, your effect annoys me, James. Really, really, annoys me."

She lurches forward, swiping her knife at me with amazing speed. I stumble back, managing to avoid her blows. Blue eyes flashing, she makes a slash at my neck, narrowly missing. "Stop moving so I can kill you!" she shouts, agitated.

"The point is me trying to notget killed." I grumble, sidestepping again.

She swipes again, but trips over something—maybe herself?—and tumbles forward, right into me. I realize what's going to end up happening a moment too late.

For a brief moment, our lips meet. Both of us seem to be too startled to move, so we just stand like that for a minute, before Bane's face twists into shock. And guess what she does? She slaps me! "James!" Oh... no, Jane, slapped me...

"It's not my fault! Bane'sthe one who kissed me!" I step out of range from Jane.

"Did not!" Bane objects. "James, you kissed her back!" Jane accuses, and she holds her head in her hands and shakes it. "Why meeeeee..."

"I was in shock! I did not 'kiss her back'! I just didn't move!"

"Keheheh... you didn't move..." She grins, then scowls again. "Wait, no, you didn't move! That's really not any better!"

"Just… just… LEAVE ME ALONE!"

"Anyway, enough chit chat. I've got to kill you now. Too bad, 'cause you're not too bad of a kisser." Then, as if saying that wasn't bad enough, she winks at me.

"I DIDN'T HEAR THAT." Tomato James, back in action.

"Oh yes you did." Then she pulls out her gun and aims. "It really is a shame..."

I pull up a wall of shadows around me in an effort to not die.

She sighs. "You're as sad as your father. Don't you realize I can disperse your wall with a wave of my hand? That's how the Summer Solstice works."

"I knowthat! I just don't want to die, and you're making that awfully difficult."

"That isthe point, isn't it? Oh, well, I suppose I can deal with you in a moment. Azrael is my first priority, after all." She turns, looking around. She narrows her eyes. "Where did that slippery vermin go..."

"There's a trapdoor behind the big chair that leads out to the training grounds. It was implemented for cases like these to serve as an emergency escape."

Bane sighs and rolls her eyes. "That man is as big a coward as Ghost..."

"Ghost? Was he here?" If I talk long enough, I won't die.

"As a matter of fact, yes, he was. He had his face rearranged. As quite a few others will have done to them before the day is out." She brings a hand to her blood covered cheek and rubs at it feebly for a second.

"You know that you probably rearranged my face too, right?"

"Oh, no, Perseus. I'm just getting started on yours." She chuckles.

"You said you were going to kill me. You can't rearrange my face if you shoot me." I point to her pistol.

"Hm... good point. Well, I mean, I could kill you first, but it wouldn't be nearly so fun."

"You are strangely obsessed with rearranging faces, aren't you? I mean, jeez, you're like… Psychopathic, or something." I back away slowly.

"No, I just have fun in ways other people couldn't even imagine." She points her pistol down for a minute. "You lead the way down the passage. I'm not letting you out of my sight."

"So you're like Rog. Sadistic all the way." I shrug. "Doesn't really make a difference to me anymore."

I walk towards the secret passageway's entrance. "Don't you dare even think about shooting or stabbing me in the back." I am so lucky I remembered to wear a bulletproof vest under my jacket…

"What's the use in that? If Azzy is hiding, waiting for me to appear in some dark underground passage or such, it's good to have you go first. Then I'll know he's there when he kills you." She shrugs. "You don't look like me, but still. I think with enough darkness you would be useful enough."

"So you just want me deader than if you just killed me right now." I pause at the top of the ladder.

"No. I'd rather not endanger myself when I can endanger you instead. Now get going."

"Don't rush me. I'd rather stay alive for as long as possible." She shoots me a warning glare. "Fine…"

Foregoing the ladder, I just jump right into the circular hole. I land with a splash. "I forgot to say that this is sort of part of the city's sewers..."

"Of course... there always has to be sewers involved," she mutters, jumping down behind me.

"I don't see what the problem is." My voice echoes in the enclosed space.

"The problem," she hisses, "is that sewers are disgusting. Now be quiet. Alerting Azrael of our presence will not help you."

"Yes it will! He won't kill me…" I'm seriously tempted to start humming. To make as much noise as I can.

"Maybe not, but I will." She nudges me with her gun.

"Watch where you put that thing!" Shouting in enclosed spaces is not recommended. I cover my ears with my hands and start moving down the main pathway, water sloshing around my boots.

"Thank you for nearly deafening my other ear," I see her say. Her eyes dart around the dark tunnel with... is that... nervousness?

"No problem." I continue towards the villain training grounds. "Honestly, the IHH is a lot friendlier… I didn't have to worry about being poisoned all the time."

She snorts. "That's because the IHH is composed of heroes. Heroes don't poison each other."

"Oh, sorry, I forgot you were a hero." I pick up the pace.

"I am not," she objects, jogging through the mucky water to keep up with me. "I'm simply stating facts."

"Then why are you part of the IHH, almighty supervillainess?" I glance back at her. Not a smart move. I trip on a rat. And faceplant in the sewer water.

"I'm not anymore, almighty hero of the sewer muck!" She laughs at me so hard I think she may be on loopy gas.

I spit out the disgusting water-seriously, it tastes worse than frog water-and try to keep my face straight. Loopy gas messes up your mind… Like when I broke my arm… "I meant to do that. Do you need to tell my old cast you're not it's friend?"

"What? I don't get it." She looks at me like I'm an alien.

"You sound like you're on loopy gas. So I-You know what, it's not important." I push myself into sitting position, and then keep walking along the path.

"You are one of the oddest people I have ever had the curse of knowing," she sighs.

"Roger's weirder." I mumble, then decide now is simply the besttime to start humming randomly.

"... What areyou doing now?"

I shake my head. I will not talk to her now. I will just annoy her forever, and ever, and ever. Or until she breaks and shoots me. Hopefully that won't happen.

She narrows her eyes and glares at me. "Well stop." She pauses. "How far 'til the training grounds?"

I am determined to keep humming, so I hold up four fingers to signal the four remaining minutes.

"James, stop the humming. Seriously. It's annoying."

"Fine! You're so lame, it's not even funny anymore!"

"You're so annoying, it's not even—You know what, it was neverfunny!"

"Then it's been working wonderfully!"

"YOU ANNOY ME SO MUCH!" she shouts. Then she puts a hand over her mouth abruptly, listening to her enraged scream echo. "See what you've done," she hisses. "Now I'm yelling! Way to let Domino know where we are!"

No sooner does she say this than a frog splashes in the murky water next to us.

Bane, obviously skittish, jumps, then chucks her knife at the area the frog just landed in.

"Don't kill the froggy!" I cry. She turns to glare at me, and I hold up my hands. "Okay, kill the frog. Just don't kill me."

She opens her mouth-probably to make a sarcastic remark or threaten me-but never gets a word out, for the shadows around us immediately spring at us both. Within seconds, Bane and I are pinned to the sewer wall.

I see Azrael materialize out of the darkness.

"You are very slow, Shadow's Bane," he chides.

"And you're a coward for running away," she spits.

"And both of you have tried to kill me~!" I chirp.

Bane slams her head backwards against the wall. "Shut up, James."

"Both of you should be silent," my father adds.

In one quick, fluid motion, Bane produces a flash of light and the shadows disperse.

I sit on my memory beach, letting the cool sand trickle through my fingers.

Everything hurts.

I gingerly lift my hand to my face, flinching at my injuries. Bane didn't let me get off easily, that much is certain. I'm rather ashamed of how much pain she was able to inflict on me. I think at this point, my face hurts the most. Well, that and my arm.

I have been watching this same, painful memory, over and over again. Every time it makes my heart hurt more than before. I tried to close my eyes and plug my ears, but minds don't work the way things on the outside do. There's some things you just can't seem to escape no matter how hard you try.

The sound of the mind door opening startles me, and my heart rate quickens.

"Get up, you worthless piece of flesh!" Bane snaps, and I feel myself jerked to my feet. A cry of pain escapes my lips before I can stop it. Not only from the physical pain from my arm, which she probably dislocated on top of whatever else is wrong with it from what she previously did, but also from the memory that came with what she just said. Roger said that just after he broke my leg; just before I was dragged into the Arena, presumably to my death.

"What more can you possiblywant with me right now?" I demand, stumbling along as she pulls my sleeve. "Seriously, can't you just leave me alone?"

"What fun would that be?" she sneers.

"Lots of fun for me," I mutter beneath my breath.

She continues pulling me; out the door, down the hall, and up the mind stairs. We arrive at the roof.

My gaze immediately rests on the sky above us: real time. Not memories. But things that are actually happening, right now, in the outside world.

It appears my physical body is in a sewer.

"What's going on?" I ask, mostly to myself. What I didn't expect was Bane's response.

"I am battling Azrael."

I stifle a gasp.

"Does this surprise you?" she asks, turning toward me, the evidence of the question in her eyes. "You knew this has been my plan since the beginning."

"Yes..." I answer hesitantly. "But to see it actually played out..."

"It comes as a shock," Bane finishes.


I survey my surroundings. In the center of my mind roof lies a little pool. No, not a swimming pool. A pool as in a pond. A tree also grows at the corner, along with a few other things here and there. This could be my only chance to free myself from the dark confines of my mind.

As the battle in the sky continues, I watch myself, controlled by Bane, sneak behind Azrael, who is currently playing shadow tug-of-war with James, and strike him on the base of his skull with the hilt of her knife-the knife which is disgusting.

The leader of the villains crumples.

I spring at Mind Bane.

The next moment I hear a thud as her head hits the concrete roof, myself pinning her to the ground.

I quickly stand and focus on taking myself from captive to controller of my mind. Bane shakes her head dizzily, a hazy fog clouding her eyes.

I now have control at the same time as my dark side.

I watch Bane bring the hilt of her knife down on the back of my father's head and he crumples to the ground.

Suddenly, I feel the overwhelming urge to insult my father and compliment the supervillainess known as Bane.

"You are a superficial, chicken-hearted madman, and you just got bested by a teenage girl." I turn to look Bane in the eye. "Maybe I underestimated your fighting abilities, Babe."

"It's Bane."

"Yeah, I know~."

"... What did you just say?!"

"Uh…" I back away from her. "Oops…"

"Yeah, oops." Jane glares at me. If looks could kill, I'd definitely be dead.

"It's not my fault! I go villain sometimes…"

Her features flicker, her expressions going back and forth between amusement and anger. She glances at Azrael, who is attempting to slowly get back on his feet. Tossing her dagger into the air so that it flips and she now holds it properly, she brings it down to rest against his neck, her expression turning savage.

"Woah, woah, woah… Bane, Jane, whoever, do not killhim." I form a shadow dagger just in case she tries to attack me.

"This man killed my mother! He tried to kill me multiple times! He destroyed my family! He took... he took you from me. He doesn't deserve to live!" Jane pushes the dagger against Azrael's throat harder, and a small stream of blood begins to trickle from his neck.

"You've left me here... you're still fading... Jane..." is all I can manage to say.

She freezes. "James... help... me..." she chokes. In the split second her guard is down, I see Azrael subtly jerk his head to the left. Jane notices only a moment too late.

"Jane!" I shout, knowing what is to come.

I see her look at me once with pleading eyes, then she is brutally nailed in the side by Azrael's wall of darkness. She is knocked to the ground, her head striking the floor. I hear a sickening thud and see her eyes begin to droop.

I turn back to Azrael only to find he has disappeared. Quite literally. In seconds I see him reappear at the fallen Jane's side. It takes a moment for me to process that he is staring at her intently. Then I understand why.

Jane rolls onto her back, obviously fighting unconsciousness. Her blade is in her hand. She lifts the blade and hovers above her above her, point directed at her.

"No! Jane!" I cry. But I'm too late. She brings the dagger down into her stomach and Azrael grins triumphantly.

I rush toward them and hear Jane—or, more accurately, Bane—say in weak power just before my father disappears again, "Big mistake, Domino. You've only succeeded in mortally wounding Jane. You've done me a favor." Before Azrael can question Bane's statement, I am close enough to kill him. He wastes no time making his escape, knowing I won't leave Jane here. I scowl murderously in his direction, then turn back to her.

"James," she coughs, her face twisted with agony. "I... I'm going to die..." Before I can object, her features change. I can still see she's in pain, but at the same time stronger. "Yes. Yes you are. Seeing as it was you that stabbed yourself, I'm not as affected. You're too weak to fend me off now. I will... I will finally have total control..." Her eyes close and her breathing slows.

She isn't dead yet. She has only passed out.

"James, Bane is trying to fully kill Jane," Fallon says, coming up beside me breathlessly. "Jane is too weak to prevent Bane from winning. But I... I can help you both. You have to trust me."

"Alright, Fall. I'll do anything to save Jane."

"Then close your eyes."

I obey and feel like I'm falling. Fallon's voice becomes a distant echo.

I blink open my eyes, and find myself sprawled on the floor of a building's lobby. What is this madness?I think, getting to my feet. I look around, and see no one else is around. Where'd everyone go...?

The elevator seems to beckon to me, but I deny it the satisfaction of ruining my life again - I walk towards the door that leads to the stairwell instead.

"James. James, can you hear me?" I start at the sound of Fallon's voice echoing through the area from the loudspeakers. "Speak out loud if you can."

"Wilco. Loud and clear, Xero. Where is everyone? Over." I wait for his response, feeling slightly stupid for how I responded.

"The only other people here are Jane and Bane. You're in Bane's-Jane's, whatever-mind. Over."

"Oh… Where am I supposed to go to find them? Over." I start up the stairs, since there's only one available direction from the lobby-up.

"You're going to die now," I hear a familiar voice say. I rush toward the direction the voice came from.

I hear panting from the same voice. Then a weak, "We'll see."

Throwing open the door leading from the stairwell, I stop cold. Bane stands not five feet from Jane. Jane's on the ground, biting her lip. Overall, her injuries consist of her previously damaged arm, cuts and bruises, a large bump on her forehead, a swollen left cheek, and the fresh stomach wound courtesy of my father.

Finally finding some of my voice, I manage to choke out, "Jane..."

The identical dark-haired teens both turn at the same time, one shooting me a glare, the other managing a slight smile.

"YOU!" Bane screams, obviously agitated. "GET OUT! I WILL NOT HAVE THIS!"

Before I can respond, I feel myself being pulled from Jane's mind. "No!" I yell, willing myself to stay. But it's not working.

Suddenly the pulling stops, and Fallon's voice comes on over the loudspeaker. "Sorry, Bane, but he is not going anywhere."

Bane stomps her foot in frustration. "LUCIFER, YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD!" She glares at me, metaphorically boring holes through my head. "Every single time I try to do something-Every. Single. Time.-you get in my way! 'Hey, Bane, I'm here to ruin your day!'" she continues in a bad imitation of my voice. "'But don't kill me! That would be an awful mistake!' WHY HAVEN'T I KILLED YOU ALREADY! That's really all I want to know! And why won't you at least stay out of my way! I regret the multiple times I've spared your life!"

"I didn't expect you to throw a temper tantrum over the fact that I just happen to have a habit of not-dying when you want me to. I think my skill could rival LVA." I roll my eyes. "Oh, that reminds me: killing and or maiming people is quite rude, and I think everyone who isn't completely insane will agree with me on that."

"The injured person on the floor agrees with Perseus," Jane pipes up. "Very rude. Yes, yes, very rude. Bane very rude."

Bane smirks. "I think you hit your head kind of hard, Jane." I hate to say it, but I have to agree with Bane on that one.

Quicker than Ethan chasing rabid ducks, Jane swipes her foot at Bane's ankles, knocking the villainess's feet from beneath her. Jane manages to crawl away-with a hand over her stomach, and great effort-a few feet before saying, "But not that hard." Her gaze rests with urgency on me. "Jamie, help please...?" she asks as Bane starts struggling to her feet.

"Nice one, Jane." I tackle Bane in order to keep her on the ground. A nagging voice tells me that it isn't very heroic to pin a girl down like this, but I banish it since, hey, this is an insane villainess I'm dealing with.

Jane manages to pull herself to her feet, and starts hobbling around, seemingly searching for something. Bane struggles beneath me, spewing obscenities.

"Urg... James... Get... Off... NOW!" She frees her hands, brings them between my arms, and pushes them outward, causing my hands slip and myself to lose balance. She pushes me off of her roughly and rolls to the side, struggling to her feet. She glares menacingly at me, preparing to kick me in the ribs.

"I see your head's still foggy from your fall," Jane shouts from twenty feet away. "Gosh, getting beat up by me. That's gotta sting."

Ever so slowly, Bane turns her head toward the Head Captain. With a look frightening enough to petrify Sergeant Jackson, she kicks me, then stalks toward Jane. "Despite the fact that I've probably made a mistake by still not killing the useless plant over there," she says, jabbing her thumb in my direction, " I'd rather kill you first. That's been my main priority for quite a while, now, and if I don't kill you now, who says I ever will? Well, I say I will, but still. It'd be much easier now."

Jane steels herself, looking at me. Communicating... something? Get the rope before she realizes what's going on! It's next to the pond! Hurry, James! she mind screams. Hurry, before she hears my thoughts!

The rope next to the pond… Upon standing up, I turn a full 360 before locating the pond. I dive towards it, grabbing the rope. I must admit, I am momentarily distracted by the koi fish swimming around, and that might be why Bane ignored my sudden movement to get the rope. After all, why bother attacking someone who would seemingly rather watch fish than help his girlfriend?

Remembering what I'm supposed to be doing, I hurry towards Jane and Bane.

Bane holds Jane in a headlock. Jane manages to free her good arm, put her arm around the back of Bane's neck, and flip her over her back. Not too shabby for her condition.

"If you're done staring at koi, it would be much appreciated if you'd tie her up now? Pretty please with sugar on top, Jamie?"

"Oh, yeah. I'm done staring at koi." I walk over to Jane and Bane, rope in hand. "I don't really know how to tie a person up. I never went to that lesson."

"So is this kinda like how you were 'never taught to throw sharp objects' by Azrael?" Bane grunts.

"Exactly. See, I was never really good at being a villain, which is why I was sent to be the spy at the IHH in the first place. Extra training, if you know what I mean."

"Well I could have told you that in the first place," Bane sneers. "You don't make a good hero, either." Jane kicks her venomously.

"Shut it, Bane. You're the one on the ground right now. You're in no position to-"

"No thanks to Koi Boy there."

"I have feelings, for your information, and they don't like it when you call me 'Koi Boy.'" I grumble, handing the rope over to Jane. "I can hold her, if you can tie her?"

"Yeah, okay. You hold her and keep her wrists behind her back." She pauses. "I'm thinking about hog-tying her and throwing her into the pond."

"Yesssss, do that!" Whoa, calm down, self. You should not be this excited about throwing someone, even a villainess, into the pond with those poor, defenseless koi fishes. "Er… I mean, yeah, that sounds like a good plan."

I follow Jane's instructions for holding Bane in place.

"You'll regret doing this, you two," Bane growls.

"James, do you regret doing this?" Jane asks as she ties.

"Nope. I'm quite enjoying this." I hesitate. "Wait, does that make me a villain?"

"Only if it makes me one, too," Jane replies. "And I don't think it does. Hey, would you hand me one of your socks? Bane talks too much."