Title: Doctor Horrible's Debutant Ball
Rating: GEN, PG13
Word Count: 1350-ish
Characters: Doctor Horrible, Moist, Fake Thomas Jefferson, miniscule cameo by the Bad Horse Singers, anonymous throng.
Summary: Doctor Horrible's official introduction to the general society of the Evil League of Evil.
Disclaimer: Joss Whedon is the evil overlord of this 'verse.
(Massive A/N after Cut)
A/N: I tried. I really truly tried to get FTJ singing for this part, but the bastard wanted to speechify instead. He wanted asides and parentheticals, and it broke things up too much for a song to retain cohesion. Also, again and still, playing fast and loose with canon, timeline and character interpretation.
A/N2: Yes, this is in the same continuity as Everything I Ever Wanted and Know Thy Enemy, and follows those. There will likely be more after this, in some fashion or other at some point in time, though I've got no idea where it's going or what to call it all.
Doctor Horrible's Debutant Ball
He'd be a lot calmer if Moist would stop looking at him like he was a beaker of acid about to boil over. This was going to be hard enough.
He'd put the goggles fully on for this. The polarized lenses provided an extra layer of distance between him and what was going on, making it seem like he wasn't actually involved, just observing. Also, if, not that he thought he would, but if he started crying, which he might, no one would know. Crying in the Evil League of Evil was punishable by death, probably. Also also, the sides of the goggles blocked his peripheral vision and kept him from seeing Moist staring at him. Didn't block the damp shifting noises of Moist fidgeting and turning to look at him though.
It didn't help that they were sitting on an open stage under bright lights in front of unknown numbers of armed and proven-by-stringent-empirical-testing evil people out there in the darkness. People who might decide to shoot them if things went awry.
There would be no going awry. Billy had his plan, he was moving forward with it. He had to bring Penny back. One step at a time. Right now he just had to make it through the next ten minutes alive, and emotionless. Something which Moist was not helping him do.
"Uh, Doc, you sure you're-" Moist whispered concernedly beside him as Fake Thomas Jefferson came out from the wings in a freshly powdered wig and took his spot at the podium to applause, hooting, and vague mutterings from the crowd beyond the lights.
"Shh," he whispered to Moist.
Fake Thomas Jefferson raised his hands for silence. "Thank you all for coming. I'm sure you're all dying to meet our applicant. You've all seen the news, you know he's killed Captain Hammer's girlfriend."
Sparse clapping and a few shouts of 'Yeah!' emanated from the crowd of criminals and evildoers beyond the stage.
Fake Thomas Jefferson leaned conspiratorially over the podium. "But... I know some very interesting details about what really happened."
Doctor Horrible heard Moist shift beside him.
"As you know, we have on-site observers for final evaluations, as well as the Evil-Cam."
A singular shout of "Evil-Cam Dot Com! Woot!" in the crowded darkness was quickly silenced.
"I say to you now, what was revealed only behind the closed doors of Bad Horse's Inner Sanctum. Revealed by the footage from our Evil-Cam and our membership adjudicator's eye witness report-" he nodded to Bad Horse's Cowboy Chorus, one of whom nodded back with a smirk. "Both confirm... The applicant did not, in fact, kill Captain Hammer's girlfriend."
A swell of low muttering washed up from the darkness.
"Uhhh... Doc...?" Moist whispered.
Doctor Horrible went rigid, keeping perfectly still, and gave the appearance of ignoring his old friend and new henchman who was nervously raising the humidity level in the immediate vicinity.
"No!" Fake Thomas Jefferson continued, "He did not do the deed himself!"
The muttering turned toward shouting, and demands for explanation.
They knew. The League knew he hadn't killed Penny. Behind the goggles, Doctor Horrible closed his eyes. It would be a relief, except for the getting killed and losing the chance to bring Penny back part. He opened his eyes again. Not now, not yet.
"The applicant monologged for two full minutes before getting to the stage to accomplish his previously stated goal of killing Captain Hammer." Fake Thomas Jefferson turned suddenly to face Doctor Horrible directly. Moist jumped.
"Incidentally, no points gained or lost on that monologue. The review panel was divided on whether it was a foolish typical new villain error, or a call-back to the days of yore when you could get in a decent monologue before murdering a hero. Rather than resort to bloodshed to resolve the matter, we declared it a neutral point. Myself, I liked it. Very charming in a neo-classical sort of way." He winked.
Rather than trusting his voice, Doctor Horrible nodded once, slowly.
Fake Thomas Jefferson turned back to the crowd. "Regardless, it was two minutes of delay during which the hero could have been being messily diced in front of a crowd of shocked and horrified innocents. But when the applicant did reach the podium, Death Ray in hand, pointing at Captain Hammer's head, what did he do?"
The muttering from the darkness gained a tone of query.
Fake Thomas Jefferson lowered his voice to a menacing hiss. "He hesitated."
A gasp rose from the crowd.
"All the footage and reports confirm this. The applicant stood there and hesitated just long enough for the Freeze Ray holding Captain Hammer trapped in place to shut down, thus freeing his nemesis to defend himself."
Moist swallowed thickly.
"Captain Hammer then disarmed the applicant and fired the Death Ray at its inventor. It malfunctioned. In the resulting explosion, Captain Hammer's girlfriend was killed. The applicant did not kill her. The applicant has, in fact, never killed anyone at all. Not even so much as an egregious maiming. Ever."
The crowd in the darkness erupted in cursing, shouting, and the unmistakable sounds of a wide variety of weapons being readied.
"Oh god. We're dead. It's splattering time," Moist whispered.
Doctor Horrible concentrated on keeping his face blank, his breathing calm, still, unaffected. Feeling nothing. Inside, he was far from calm. They know. They'll kill us. I can't lose this chance to get Penny back, I can't. Not now.
A growing sound cut through the impending mayhem; a single pair of lace-ruffed hands clapping, loud and slow. Fake Thomas Jefferson stood in the center of the stage, applauding, face alight with a small smirk. When the crowd had quieted a bit, he stopped, raised his hands for further silence and addressed the crowd again.
"NO! Our new member did not kill her. He did even better."
The faux 19th-century statesman stalked across the front of the stage as he spoke.
"The applicant rigged his Death Ray so that it would explode upon firing, and contrived this most eloquent delay and 'hesitation' purely so that he would be 'disarmed' by Captain Hammer. Who then of course turned the gun upon his most hated nemesis, our new member, and fired. As a result, this," Fake Thomas Jefferson wheeled and pointed at Doctor Horrible, "evil man seated before you made Captain Hammer responsible for the death of his own girlfriend."
A murmur of consideration washed through the crowd.
"Also nearly took out a roomful of innocent bystanders with the explosion which would have been a nice bonus, but nonetheless, the target that mattered was eliminated. By the hand of her own boyfriend, the insufferable Captain Hammer, the chirpy, red-headed, do-gooder trinket was slain."
Penny, Doctor Horrible thought, gritting his teeth. Her name is Penny and she's nobody's trinket.
Beside him, Moist gurgled and tried to keep from slipping out of his seat.
"The guilt, the pain, the anguish our applicant here has inflicted upon this annoying hero is a stroke of artistry only one truly diabolical could have conceived." Fake Thomas Jefferson returned to the podium. "A most elegant and creative murder. A plan so twisted and dark it could have come from the best of us. This man has engineered the delivery of a hero into a hell brought about by the hero's own hand. That takes craft, malice and genius beyond science alone. That, my allies, takes absolute, unmitigated evil."
The crowd murmured appreciatively. Doctor Horrible sat motionless and expressionless, feeling nauseated while Moist dampened the arm of his lab-coat.
"So with that I give you the man who after years of weak applications, finally developed the stones to be a part of our League." Fake Thomas Jefferson stepped aside and with a grand gesture, directed the throng's attention to the two men in chairs behind him.
"I give you... DOCTOR HORRIBLE!"
The room rang with shouts and cheering, punctuated with cheerful and hopefully targetless small arms fire.
Moist released his friend's arm and clutched at the sides of his chair. Doctor Horrible rose, letting himself retreat further behind the blank mask of the tinted and sightly moisture-fogged goggles.
I'm in, he thought with sickened relief. Stage one complete.
Keeping his face still, cold and emotionless, he walked to join Fake Thomas Jefferson at center stage to a concerted roar of malevolent approval.
- - -
(...and onward we go...)