Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pact of Righteousness

Just out of sight on the fire escape, Hero EJ watches Good EJ and Sami through the window outside Sami’s apartment. Good EJ smugly nods slightly to Hero EJ when he sees Hero EJ looking at him and Sami before he turns his attention back to the movie they are watching together. Hero EJ levies a neutral expression back yet clenches his right fist at his side.

Hero EJ (muttering to himself): “Arrogant git.”

Sinister Voice (from behind): “Even the valiant get frustrated, eh? Sentry duty is just not as romantic as they make it out to be in the comic books or crime novels.”

Cursing himself for dropping his guard, Hero EJ turns around to see that Evil EJ is standing before him.

Hero EJ (displeased): “You.”

Evil EJ (raising an eyebrow): “You think anyone else would bother to come visit you when it’s this cold out? Gray EJ is refusing to even get out of bed this morning.”

Evil EJ (putting out his hand): “I come with a peace offering. A white chocolate mocha for the most courageous of hearts.”

Hero EJ makes no move to accept the drink and merely glares at Evil EJ.

Evil EJ (pressing): “Come on now, you don’t want the work of the poor girl who spent time getting your extra milk just right go to waste, do you? After all, you’ve read about Starbucks in the news, haven’t you? How the CEO shut each location down for three hours and made the workers sign some paper proclaiming their dedication to quality coffee? As if that will help them in a downturned economy.”

Thirsty and cold, Hero EJ rationalizes that he will need fuel to continue his vigil, so he reluctantly takes the coffee and sips silently. Evil EJ grins in response.

Evil EJ (encouraged): “Annoying, isn’t he?”

Hero EJ (defensive): “He’s a good man.”

Evil EJ (seizing the initiative): “Precisely the problem. All those traits you value so much like honesty, strength, compassion, loyalty…he is the one embodying them, not you. And that grates on you, doesn’t it?”

Evil EJ (continuing): “It was supposed to be you, all that build up to Stefano kidnapping Gianni and a showdown in Ireland where you would shine as the knight you are. You were so looking forward to it because you would have gotten to run the show for so many days, but then one of TPTB’s whimsical direction changes struck and…poof, nothing. And here you are, reduced to watching your adored princess through paned glass instead of being by her side where you can always keep an eye on her.”

Hero EJ (reaching): “It could be worse.”

Evil EJ (insidiously): “It could, but this is especially hard on you, isn’t it? You got the perfect storyline to have Samantha at your side in order to keep her safe, which is everything you’ve ever wanted, right in front of you only to have it taken away. Moreover, he gave the few scenes he hasn’t been in to Gray EJ when you’re supposed to be his number two. You’re the other good EJ.”

Hero EJ (turning his head slightly): “And you.”

Evil EJ (scoffing): “Hardly. I took that. Sleep or not, Samantha should know better than to wear anything from Hot Topic in front of us.”

Hero EJ (curious): “How exactly did you manage that anyway?”

Evil EJ (surveying the view): “True brilliance needs no explanation.”

Hero EJ (considering): “Fair enough. Evil EJ, I appreciate the company and the warm beverage, but you and I spent last summer at each other’s throats.”

Evil EJ (nodding): “We did. One upping each other while saving Samantha over and over again. But through it all, we had an uneasy alliance because we both have her best interests at heart. We had...an understanding.”

Hero EJ (drinking his coffee): “I understand that I should throw you off this fire escape.”

Evil EJ (continuing): “You’d certainly like to, but what you’ve always lacked in reasonableness you’ve made up for in intelligence. You know you can’t do that, just as you know that you only need a little time with the fair Samantha. You don’t require much…five minutes here, ten minutes there, but now you’re getting nothing. And even the knight needs to take his armor off sometimes, don’t you, sunshine?”

Hero EJ (narrowing his eyes): “And I suppose you crawled out from under your rock in order to lighten my load.”

Evil EJ (grinning): “I live to serve others.”

Hero EJ (astutely): “Only after yourself and if it amuses you. I know firsthand you don’t like the passenger’s seat, Evil EJ. You’re planning to overthrow Good EJ, and you wouldn’t dare approach me unless you had both Evil Crazy EJ and Gray EJ already sown up.”

Evil EJ (slightly annoyed): “Indeed. Unusually blunt today, aren’t we, Sir Gawain?”

Hero EJ (shrugging): “You’re correct. I am frustrated. So get to the point. What exactly are you offering me?”

Evil EJ (pointing): “You join with me, you get to spend time with your fair maiden. And quality time, mind you. Gray EJ has already nicely volunteered to take all of those out of focus standing around in the background scenes in addition to reaction shots when other people are speaking.”

Hero EJ (inclining his head towards Evil EJ): “How do I know that the moment you take over, you won’t try to monopolize her the way you tried to last time?”

Evil EJ (grimacing): “I can’t this time around, unfortunately. As much as I rail against Days’ morality laws, Gray EJ is right about needing to maintain the redemption, and that means keeping up the fa├žade of a better man, even if both him and myself are going to attempt to darken us somewhat. But that works in your favor. There will be times that the purity will be too much for either him or me to withstand, and that means that for those moments, that’s your time to stand out as the classic romantic hero. You will get to be Samantha’s protector, in every sense of the word.”

Hero EJ (weighing the offer): “What exactly do you want me to do?”

Evil EJ (explaining): “I know better than to ask you to help us entrap Good EJ. I just need you to not interfere. Be somewhere else when we take him. I’ll be sure to pick a time when Samantha and the twins don’t need surveillance so you needn’t worry. Go visit that exhibit on medieval weaponry at the Salem History Museum that you like so much or something. I know you could look at those ancient swords for hours.”

After Evil EJ finishes, Hero EJ looks at him. The seconds turn into minutes.

Evil EJ (annoyed): “Look, this is already hard enough for me as it is, you ungrateful maggot.”

Hero EJ (nonchalantly): “Since when does selling someone on an idea include insulting them?”

Evil EJ (through gritted teeth): “Fine. I apologize.”

After more silence, Evil EJ realizes the reason for the delay and what Hero EJ is actually looking for. Pushing his disgust down, Evil EJ tries not to look at Hero EJ as he offers it.

Evil EJ (softly): “As much as I hate to say it, we…need you.”

Very reluctantly, Evil EJ extends his arm and offers his hand.

Evil EJ (painfully): “Please.”

The air hangs in the space around them as Hero EJ looks at Evil EJ. In his peripheral vision, Hero EJ sees a glimpse of Sami laughing through the window. A shadow of longing falls onto his face, and the decision is instantly made as he grasps Evil EJ’s hand and shakes it.

Hero EJ (reluctantly): “All right.”

Evil EJ (brightening): “Splendid. You won’t regret it.”

Hero EJ (wistfully): “I already do.”

Evil EJ (happily): “Your conscience? You really need to look into getting that removed.”

Hero EJ (sadly): “Perhaps I already have. I never would have even considered this before. Here I am, one of the two light side EJs conspiring with you, the champion of darkness and my sworn adversary, to bring down my most trusted ally.”

Evil EJ (encouragingly): “Oh come on, he’s never going to let us in willingly. He needs to learn how to share. I have. Speaking of which, I better get back to our apartment. I promised Evil Crazy EJ and Samantha that we’d watch Dexter now that CBS has saved me the trouble of censoring the swearwords.”

Hero EJ (nicely): “I bet he’ll like that. Tell him and Gray EJ I say hi.”

Evil EJ (nodding): “Certainly. And I’ll text you before our game gets underway.”

Hero EJ (wondering): “Soon? With me onboard, I imagine there’s little left to be prepared.”

Evil EJ (agreeing): “Soon…but not too soon. As you know, timing is everything. See you later, vanguard.”

Hero EJ nods at Evil EJ as Evil EJ moves and swiftly climbs down the ladder of the fire escape. Turning his attention back towards his self-appointed duty, Hero EJ enviously watches Good EJ and Sami through the window.

Hero EJ (hardening): “Virtue is never its own reward, Good EJ.”