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24 August 2006 @ 12:30 pm
ONESHOT: "No Good Deed"  
Title: "No Good Deed"
Rating: PG-13/T
Summary: An interlude before the fall. Zemo ponders. 

She is so beautiful.

It makes him bitter, that he has to wear two masks, and not just one. That when he takes his cloth mask off to kiss her, or show her his face, he is just revealing another mask beneath it. She sees unmarred white skin and thick blonde hair, rather than the burnt skin that wrinkles at his eyes and almost exposes the shape of his skull. When she presses her lips, warm and soft and tingling, against his, she doesn't feel the warped flesh.

He knows, deep down, that he got her this way. He was an attractive man once. He knows that if he didn't have the moonstones she would never have fallen for him.

But he doesn't care as much as one would think. She kisses him, she touches him, and that is enough.

They have sex, of course. She is by no means his first, but she feels special, not at all like the other casual faces or his former, despicable wife. She is beautiful as she moves beneath him, or on top of him, and he is always exhilerated by her. She is the first Jewish woman he has ever been with—wouldn't father be just proud. She is the opposite of everything he is and was, she is what he has prepared for this world, worked hard to create... She is his gift to this planet when he is gone.

Helmut crosses his private chambers, ignoring the Nazi memorabilia collected by his father over the years, to a stand where a crystalline bottle of liquor and matching glasses—two, he always has two—waits for him. He pours a generous amount—in the end, he won't have to worry about his health anymore—and he drinks, savoring the taste, wishing Melissa were with him right now. She's in Africa. He sent her there on a mission. He always forgets about the vague feeling of loneliness that pervades the quiet after he sends her out.

Almost morosely, Helmut pours himself another fill, but he regrets doing it almost immediately; suddenly he doesn't want anymore. He looks down at the dark, amber liquid, and sloshes it around in the glass.

She's going to betray him.

He knows it for a fact, thanks to the moonstones that have given him so much power and connection to the timestream. They have shown him many things, both good and bad. Melissa will turn on him soon, and he will have to sacrifice himself to save the world.

Melissa is going to betray him because she thinks it's the right thing to do. It's funny, almost—it makes him wonder what goodness really is, that two people compelled to do the right thing can be so different in their actions. She wants to save the world, but he is the one that will make the sacrifice. And when he does it will be because of her.

He hopes she loves him. Even now his feelings for her remain the same. She is doing what she feels compelled to do. And she isn't backing down.

He sets down the liquor and walks over a glass case in the room. It is protecting an old uniform. The clothing is blue and red, sewn to fit a child no more than twelve years old. It's dated and ragged and torn, and he finds himself staring at it often. It belonged to little Bucky, whom his father had doomed to death. Years later, after the rage, the revenge, Helmut understands the pain his former enemy Captain America must have felt in those moments. He can't imagine being unable to save Melissa.

He stares at his reflection in the glass, the twisted and discolored skin. He got this face for saving Captain America's life. He can remember the searing pain overriding all of his senses, the hot, agonizing throb as he lay in the man's arms. It was a sacrifice he had willingly paid. He would do it again.

A small, thin smile, devoid of humor, comes to his lips. He will do it again. The first time, he lost his vanity. This time, he will lose so much more.

“No good deed goes unpunished, eh?” he asks the uniform in the glass. He imagines a young boy flying to his death, a dedicated soldier crying into the remains of torn photographs, and he knows something that others don't; that being righteous, being superior, means losing something. To be noble means to suffer.

He finally understands what it is like to be Captain America.

“Don't worry, friend,” he mutters softly, turning away from the glass. He goes to pour another glass of liquor; for Melissa when she returns. “Leave this next one to me.”