The Invitation

by Lara Wilson

He sits in front of a fire. He hears the crackle of burning wood and the pop of resin, smells the scent of the smoke.

But can't feel the heat. It seems he's been cold for years. Free of his son's possession and slowly regaining his sanity he hopes finally to thaw.

The flames dance golden, red and electric blue before his eyes as he ponders the invitation held in his right hand. The vellum is thick, professionally engraved--and he can't help but wonder at what kind of person has invitations printed for something like this. Do you simply hire it out and expect them to keep a secret or do you have your own people staffing a print shop?

It amuses him for a moment, but then the contents of the invitation push aside that amusement.

Lex Luthor wants him to join some high society of villains.

Villains.

Is that what he is now?

He's never considered himself a villain, let alone something as silly as a supervillain. He's a mercenary, an assassin when necessary, a killer, yes, but he lives by a code. He has standards and ethics.

He's not some lunatic in a cape plotting to rule the world.

He doesn't do anything unless there's a profit in it for him, so...where's the profit here?

A log burns through, sending a shower of sparks up the chimney. One lands on the brick hearth and he watches it flicker, finally dying to black ash.

And he thinks of hair the color of that ash gleaming with reflected light. Hair tousled by the wind, brushing the edges of a domino mask, and he wonders what might have been...and what might yet be.

With an almost silent chuckle he tosses the invitation into the fire, watches it go up like so much useless smoke.

And feels warm.

End

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