The kiss was electric.
The moment their lips touched, it was like opening floodgates of emotion. He was so responsive, his lips soft but unyielding. He leaned into Val, and his hands went to her hips. The touch made her shiver. He tasted like coffee and other wonderful things, and her hands brushed faint stubble on his cheeks as she pulled him closer, but not close enough. Nothing could be close enough. She wanted to touch all of him at once.
How could a simple kiss feel so good? They hadn’t even started any of the really fun stuff yet. If his lips and hands affected her so much, then what would the rest of him do to her? She moaned, unable to wait to find out.
Dave stiffened. His hands fell from her waist, and suddenly it felt like Val was kissing a rock.
She pulled back. His face looked pale and shaken.
“I’m sorry.” His voice was hoarse. “I can’t.”
Val quickly gathered up all her emotions and shoved them into a small steel box.
“Right,” she said, and immediately regretted it. She needed to say something sarcastic and casual to show it didn’t matter.
“I’m not saying I don’t want to,” he said quickly. “I— My job. It’s not just a job. It’s a duty. And you….”
“I’m a supervillain,” she finished, “And we can’t have White Knight getting seduced by a supervillain. It’s fine. I get it.”
“You should be. I could have given you a night you’d never forget.” She put her hands in her pockets and kept her tone light. “But now I think I’ll just head out. See you around.”
“Wait. I’ll walk you to the front entrance.”
“No.” She couldn’t begin to describe how horrible a silent elevator ride alone with him would be right now. “You don’t have to escort me. I’m not going to flip out and start attacking nurses. Scout’s honor.”
She expected him to insist and was surprised when his shoulders slumped and he said, “Fine. I guess… Goodbye, then.”
“Yeah…” A thousand thoughts passed through her head. “Bye.”
She couldn’t manage to saunter or stride out of the room, so she just left as quickly as she could without running.
Dave waited until he thought Val must have taken the elevator down, then walked dazedly over to the chair. He managed to reach it before his knees buckled, and he collapsed into the seat. That kiss…
He still felt dizzy. That had been more just good. It had felt so right holding her in his arms. Which was crazy, because it was wrong. So very, very wrong. Treasonous and dangerous and…absolutely magical. But it was over now, no evidence that it had ever happened except his weak knees and an ache in his chest. He couldn’t remember what he’d said to her, except that it had made her leave. And that was good. Yes, good. End it quickly before it began. How else could it have gone? It wasn’t like they could have a future together.
He waited in the chair until he was completely certain she’d had enough time to leave the hospital. Because if he saw her again, the Black Valentine wouldn’t have to use mind-control on White Knight. If there was a chance she’d kiss him like that again, he’d do anything she asked.
By the time Moreen got Yasunaga, Howl, and the others back to the station…well, she didn’t want to consider what time it was. If Yasunaga bribed her with a soft bed, she might just take off his handcuffs and let him walk.
“Will you be the one interrogating me?” Yasunaga asked as she brought him to get booked. The hallways were nearly empty at this time of night, which meant fewer people to witness a soggy Moreen and company dripping a trail of water across the floor. She wouldn’t have cared if it weren’t for her wet socks, which felt moister and slimier with every step.
“Tomorrow,” Moreen grunted.
He smiled cheerlessly. “You mean later today.”
Unless Moreen got her wish and was able to sleep all day, in which case it really would be tomorrow. “Why so eager to chat?”
“We have plenty to talk about. Like how the Black Valentine was the one who told you Death was responsible for your agent’s murder.”
“I can’t confirm or deny who our sources are.”
“You don’t have to confirm it. I know it was her. I’m just curious why.”
Moreen wondered if Lightblade had told him about the Black Valentine, or if he had another mole in the DSA. She was too tired for this.
“She did it to save her own skin,” Moreen said.
“Of course she did,” Yasunaga nearly spat. “But was that her only reason? She had all sorts of information she could have traded you, but she chose a lead that would cripple my organization—something I’m sure my enemies are capitalizing on as we speak.”
They reached booking, and he paused. “You seem fairly smart—for a DSA agent. You should look into it.”
“Thank you for what I’m sure is completely selfless advice.”
He smiled again, or at least his mouth curved upward in what might have been technically defined as a smile. “We have to stick together—those of us without powers. This is a hard line of work for us.”
“You won today, but if it wasn’t for the Illusionist, you’d have a bullet in your chest right now. People like us can’t compete with people like them. It won’t be long before you’re carted off like me, usurped by someone with flashy powers and a stupid costume.”
She handed him off and walked away, telling herself that the uncomfortable feeling in her stomach was because she was damp and chilly.
She ran into Yuna again in the hallway, shivering in her wet T-shirt and staring darkly at the wall. Moreen followed her gaze and found the offending object. Between a wanted poster and a flyer about home security, there was a huge promotional poster of Lightblade and the Illusionist that read “Seattle’s Finest.”
“It’ll get better,” Moreen said, “What you’re feeling right now.”
Yuna tore her gaze away. “Yeah, right. The media hasn’t even picked up the story yet.”
“Yeah, that’ll suck,” Moreen agreed, “But give it a few months. It’ll blow over. And after tonight, I doubt the chief or anyone else will think you were working with Lightblade.”
Yuna flinched. “The chief told you that?”
“No,” she said truthfully. “He just told me to keep an eye on you.”
Yuna looked away. “It’s not like I can’t see why. Me and Mitch were close. We hung out after work, and I used to dog-sit for him. I—crap, I have to make sure somebody looks after Roxy while he’s in jail.” She slapped her forehead. “And that’ll just make people more suspicious, won’t it?”
“Maybe, but it’s the decent thing to do.” Moreen gave Yuna a friendly nudge on the arm. “People will forget this crap with Lightblade eventually, but I bet they’ll remember the Illusionist for a long time. If how you saved my life tonight is any indication, you’ll do just fine.”
“Thanks,” Yuna said, her cheeks red.
Leaving the slightly cheered hero behind, Moreen went to find Dave. After asking around, she located him in an empty conference room, the lights off, his head resting on the meeting table. She kicked him in the leg, and he woke up.
“Long day?” she asked.
“Same as yours.” He blinked drowsily and took in her appearance. “Though I didn’t go swimming.”
“Yeah, you missed out. Lake Union was real refreshing.”
They stared at each other, brains too tired to come up with anything else to say.
“Back to the hotel?” Dave asked.
“Dear God, yes.”
Slightly longer update today. Next week will be the epilogue, and then we’ll move on to episode 4.
Now, like Dave and Moreen, I’m going to collapse, exhausted, into bed.