"Wallet? Check," I said, patting my ass to find my wallet in my back pocket. "Phone? Check," I continued, patting my left front pocket. "Car keys? Check," I continued, parting my right front pocket to find the key ring that also had my apartment key along with a few others. "Fifty kilos of cocaine?" I continued, my gaze landing on the duffle bag that was stuffed to the point of bursting with fifty bricks of some of the purest cocaine on the face of the planet.

"Check," I finished, tossing the duffle bag strap over one shoulder. On my back was roughly a million and a half worth of cocaine, or about thirty years in prison if I got caught. It had some weight to it, but not enough to throw me off balance. I gave my studio apartment a quick look over - it was the cheapest place I could find in New York City, and it looked it. It was a closet in the back of a nail salon that had just enough room for a fold-out couch and a sink. And it still cost me a thousand a month.

Folding up the couch so I could step through the door to my apartment, I opened the door up to see a short Asian woman waiting to ambush me. Her arms were crossed, a hip was cocked, and her expression told me exactly what she wanted. "Rent?" Hana, my landlord, prompted, earning an easy smile.

"On my way to cash the check," I told her, making her eyes narrow. I didn't take it personally. The type of person who rented out the hovel that I lived in was the type of person that you had to kick and drag into paying rent on time. I actually had the cash to pay her now, but that would mean revealing my hidey-hole to her. Hana was a middle-aged Asian woman that carried herself with an air of no-nonsense, but if she knew how much I had squirreled away then I had no doubt I'd find myself robbed.

Her expression pinched, and that probably wasn't the first time she had heard that before, but my confidence seemed to take the edge off her suspicion. "I want it today, Will. Or you'll be out by tomorrow," she warned and I nodded, closing the door behind me as I scooted past her.

"I hear you, I hear you," I told her in response, waving off her threats. "You'll get your money, don't you worry. I'll pay for next month in advance since I'll probably bounce before I stay another month." That got a flash of concern rather than relief.

"You're just a boy. You shouldn't be moving anywhere too expensive, yeah? Save your money," Hana said, following me to the door. The nail salon was busy and it always seemed to be. The chairs were all full of prissy women that needed the perfect nail job while working over them were illegal immigrants that worked at Hana's salon because she was one of the few places willing to hire people without documents in exchange for working below the minimum wage. It was a nice little system, I guess.

S'not like I could really complain at how illegal it was on account of the fifty kilos of cocaine slung over my shoulder.

"You could just say you'll miss me," I said, heading for the door. The various women followed me with their eyes, sitting a little straighter and fluttering their eyelashes at me. Hana, on the other hand, simply rolled her eyes.

"I'll miss a tenant that pays their rent," she shot back as I neared the door. "You're eighteen. Stay where you can afford it! Don't blow your money on expensive apartments, or cars, or blow, or hookers," she said, giving me a pointed look. "If you pay for a couple of months in advance, I'll give you a discount?" She offered, trying to warn me of the dangers of spending cash frivolously and trying to rob me in the same breath. Fair enough, I guess. In this city, you had to be a millionaire to make ends meet. Everyone had to be a slave to something.

"I might take you up on that," I told her, stepping out of the nail salon and giving her a wave goodbye before I continued on my merry way to the drug deal that I scheduled. Despite my utterly shit apartment, I was technically living in one of the better parts of New York - Midtown. It was mostly tourist trap boutiques, but there were a fair few mom-and-pop stores. Some of them even had some history to them.

New York City. The city that never sleeps. I had no clue how true that was until I arrived about a month ago. There wasn't a street in New York that didn't have bumper-to-bumper traffic, there was never a sidewalk that didn't have at least a dozen people marching up and down it, and more than that, there was always the distant wailing of a siren. Could be police, could be an ambulance, or could be a firetruck. There was no telling.

Everyone was always doing something. Stock trading, real estate, cab driver. They could be going home to their family or they could be leaving their home and family behind them for the last time. They could be going to welcome a new life into the world, or they could be going to take a life for any one of a thousand reasons. Or, they could be like me - going to a drug deal in some back alley pawnshop that only stayed in business because of the dirty money that flowed through it.

Ralf's Pawn 'N Talk was a real piece of shit. Bars over the windows and door, a neon open sign that only had a glowing P. It looked exactly what I imagined when I pictured where a drug deal would go down. Pushing the door open, an old fat man wearing about thirty thousand dollars worth of gold chains and rings looked up from the paper to take a glance at me. I gave him an easy smile, "I need to use the backRoom? Someone should be waiting for me."

As I spoke, I did two things. To my side, I cupped my hand with my palm facing the floor. The moment I said room, a small blue bubble manifested before it expanded outward, enveloping the pawnshop and the backroom but not much more than that. Saying Room was an annoying quirk of my power that I hadn't managed to get rid of yet, but I did manage to get rid of people noticing when they entered my Room. Additionally, at the start, I could barely make a room larger than my body but now I was up to the size of a small building.

The second thing I did was glance at the backroom. Inside my Room, I was a god. Well, not really, but it wasn't that far off. I could manipulate the fabric of reality rather freely - teleportation, and matter manipulation, among other things. It was for that reason that I instantly knew that there were three people in the back room and they were armed.

There was supposed to be one and we agreed to no guns.

They didn't even have the money.

"You're welcome to use the backroom," Ralf told me, turning his attention back to the paper. He already got his fee, so he couldn't care less about what happened back there. He didn't even have a camera and went as far as to soundproof it.

"Appreciate it," I said, continuing to the backroom without missing a beat. Reaching out, I twisted the handle to see exactly what I knew I would - three men that looked so gangster that I would believe that they had been born with gang tats. "Hey, Mike. I see you brought some friends," I noted, striding into the rather large room. There was a square table with some chairs around it, a counter with a microwave on it with a mini-fridge tucked in the corner. The walls were painted a sickly yellow that was peeling and the carpet had been ripped up, revealing dull gray stone.

Mike was the one I was making the deal with and his friends were mean mugging me the moment I stepped through the door. "Boss thought that this deal was a little too… much for me to handle solo. I'm shocked that your man up top would trust you to come back with a million and a half instead of running with it."

I took a seat and sat the cocaine on the ground. "Fair enough, I suppose," I said, leaning into my chair and giving them all an easy smile. "And a mill is a lot of money, but… it's not that much anymore, you know? Back in the day, having a million meant you were set for life and you could live like a king. Now that magic number is like a hundred million. Inflation's a real bitch," I chatted away, pretending like I had no clue something was wrong.

One of Mike's friends slammed a hand on the table, jerking forward like he was going to lunge at me. "Shut the fuck up. Show us the product," he snapped at me. I cocked an eyebrow, looking at Mike, who held up a hand to calm his friend. Good cop, bad cop, huh? That was cute.

"Chill, man. Taylor's good for it, right?" He asked me, using the name that I gave him.

"Of course," I responded. "This is a big deal for us as well. The Hearts Gang is looking for movers in New York and the Bayers have the corner on the market here. This could be the start of a long, prosperous, relationship." Not all bullshit. Just mostly. While I spoke, I reached down and set the duffle bag on the table before unzipping it. Taking out a block, I gave it to Mike for inspection.

He took out a knife, cut the packaging, and took a little on the top of his knife before rubbing it on his gums. Then he let out an approving whistle, "That is the good shit right there, T! Hmm!" He said, giving me a genuine smile like he wasn't about to rob me. "Where do you get this shit, man?"

"Straight from Panama," I answered, lying as naturally as I breathed. My Rooms had a degree of matter manipulation. Turning lead into gold was beyond me, but I could push out the impurities in cocaine - the additives, the lingering chemicals during processing, and so on. Leaving behind pure cocaine from the shit that wasn't just stepped on, but acted as the floor for a tapdance troupe. "Do you have the money?"

In response to that, I got two guns in my face. "Yeah, about that - the Bayers are gonna take this as a gift for the Hearts to do business in NYC. Now, normally, I'd let my boy pop you and just be done with it. But, since I like you, and I'm a fan of the product… I think we could work something out. I'll be honest - we're going to take a discount of, say… thirty percent. Just figured you should get a heads up," Mike said, reaching across the table to give me a light slap on the cheek while the third guy packaged up the cocaine.

"Hm. Ain't that a shame," I said, making no move to get up, making Bad Cop sneer at me.

"Fucking bitch," he scoffed, pressing the gun to my temple. "I should pop you here for the disrespect. You Hearts are some country ass bumpkins moving into the city of dreams. You stepped on some toes. Our toes."

"Then shoot," I told him, offering an uncaring shrug. His eyes narrowed, and I raised my eyebrows. "Well? I'm waiting. Pull the trigger, man. Come on. Do it."

"Step off," Mike said, placing a hand on Bad Cops' arm, forcing him to lower it. "None of that. The disrespect has been paid in full," he said, turning his attention to me. "We'll be in touch. One way or the other," he told me before the three gangsters left me in the backroom with my million and a half worth of cocaine. I sat there, giving them a head start. It'd be pretty weird if I ran into them after just getting robbed, you know?

A minute later, my phone rang. An unknown number. Answering it, I brought my burner flip phone to my ear, "Hello, Robin. Got an eye on them?"

"Several," came the smooth reply of Nico Robin. "I see that they left with the drugs. There are less expensive ways to discover the enemy's trade routes," she noted while I draped an arm over the back of my chair while looking up at the ceiling.

"Meh, it's crap that we scrounged together and turned into a diamond," I responded. That million and a half worth of cocaine was cobbled together by the trash that not even Billy Maze could sell at anything close to the street price. "Sure, it would have been nice if they forked over the cash, but it's not like I expected them to. The intel is worth more as far as I'm concerned. We know where they sell their shit stuff, but not where they sell the good coke."

Mapping out gang infrastructure was shockingly difficult. No wonder the War on Drugs was so completely ineffective. I wasn't restrained by the long arm of the law, and in the past month, I got a clusterfuck of an interconnected web of gangs, fronts, people skimming off the top, and side deals. There was such a thing as too much intel. It became difficult to tell where one gang's activities ended and another's began. It wasn't like gang members made every deal clearly labeled as official and the side shit they were doing under the table.

Still, after a month, I was getting a good idea of the various nations of the underworld. The big names were the Bayers, the All-Americans, the Nightbloods, City Sirens, the Valentines, the Nixies and Six-Shot-Shooters, or the SSS. Not to mention the countless other gangs that bounced around the big names.

Territory shifted like sand in the city, proving that Hollywood had lied to me. The only dedicated corners that drugs and stuff were sold from were in the heartland of a gang's territory. On the fringes, you could have one gang there one day, another the next, and the day after it would be a completely new gang. Other times, a gang would let a corner develop a customer base - have junkies learn where they could get some good shit, then roll in on that corner and take it over. That kind of conflict was usually reserved for lower-end gangs, but some of them were proxies for the bigger gangs. So, in all, shit was fucking wild and an absolute mess to figure out.

"You're quite the cautious one," Robin noted, and not for the first time.

I was. Something like this… you only got one shot at it and you either go home with the gold or you don't go home at all.

"True, but the time for caution is almost over. Keep an eye and ear on them - ah, well, you know the drill by now," I said, my gaze sliding up to the corner of the room behind me, seeing a hand in the corner that had an eye on the palm. I cocked an eyebrow at Robin, knowing that she could see me through it and I heard a faint chuckle coming through the phone.

"I do. You'll know if I find anything of… substance," Robin decided, ending the call as the hand dissolved into flower petals that then faded into non-existence. I scratched at my cheek, my gaze searching for any other signs that Robin was listening or watching. Her power was a little unnerving, I could admit as much. She could project parts of her body pretty much anywhere - walls, cars, and even people. Meaning that she could look and hear anything around her.

I didn't know her range because she wasn't exactly forthcoming with the limitations of her power, but the only weakness that I could find with it was that she got feedback from the limbs. So, if one of her projected hands got injured, she would feel that injury, but the physical injury itself wouldn't be transferred over.

And while she called me cautious, I could say the same thing to her. Robin and I had never stood in the same room together. She only spoke to me through the phone, or with her power.

A sigh escaped me before I stood up - after a month, the only thing I really knew about Nico Robin was her name and the fact that she had a superpower. I didn't even know what she actually wanted. She seemed to like money, but it didn't hold any special place in her heart. More of a means to an end, if I had to say. Which left me in the dark about why she agreed to help me map out the criminal underworld of New York City.

Leaving the backroom, Ralf gave me a glance but said nothing as I continued out of his store. He knew I got robbed, but he didn't care. So long as he didn't have to clean up a mess, I knew he didn't care what happened in his backroom. Deciding that I would leave Mike and his friends to Robin, I decided to take a walk through the busy streets of New York City.

All around me were familiar faces. Seven- well, technically five, faces that you couldn't take a walk down the street without seeing. They were on every billboard, digital or canvas, on every bus and traffic stop. New York was home to nine million people but there was no doubt in anyone's mind that the city belonged to the Seven. Seven heroes.

Homelander was the leader and the creator of the Seven that worked under the umbrella known as Vought. Queen Maeve, an amazonian powerhouse that had been on the team the longest next to Homelander. A-Train, the fastest man alive. The Deep, a man who could speak to fish and convince them to do his bidding. Translucent, a man that could make himself invisible at will. Black Noir, a man covered head to toe in black armor, really going for the ninja theme, had technically been a hero for the past fifty years if rumors could be believed, and lastly, Lamplighter, a man that could control fire and focus it into powerful blasts.

Beyond their powers, all supes in the world had a baseline increase in durability and strength. Most supes were bulletproof as a general rule. There were thousands of them throughout the nation. A fair few were connected to Vought, a global megacorporation, but there were plenty of freelance supes out there. For better or worse.

My gaze lingered on a picture of Homelander - bright blue eyes and blonde hair that looked off into the distance, smiling at something only he could see. They were coming out with another movie based on the looks of things. I tried to keep up with the series, but it was exhausting to puzzle out the VCU. Especially when they tended to retcon things whenever a new member was added to the Seven when one stepped down. There were like ten different origin stories for the Seven.

I heard a sonic boom above, bringing my attention up just in time to see Homelander streak across the sky with his American flag cape fluttering in the wind, probably off to go save a kitten from a tree or something. I pursed my lips before looking down, keeping my gaze on the ground in front of me. I was going to have to worry about the Seven eventually, but that day wasn't today.

Walking into a Starbucks, I was lambasted with more Seven related advertisements. There were posters on walls, selling Seven themed coffee mugs and sponsored coffee grinds. There was even a promo running at every Starbucks in America - you could order one of seven drinks inspired by the intrepid heroes.

It just… it didn't stop.

Heading to the barista - a guy around my age that looked like he was torn between either killing himself or everyone around him - Andrew based on the name tag gave me a practiced smile. "Afternoon, could I interest you in a Black Mocha Noir or a Queen Sweet Bee Maeve? They're limited time only." He spoke the words with a dull monotone kind of pain that told me he had been repeating them all day long and he was sick of it. There was genuine, heartfelt pain in his eyes that made the practiced smile look like he was screaming internally. Jesus. I wish I had brought a gun to help him when he made his decision.

"I'll just take two lattes. Large. Or venti or whatever," I said, and there didn't yet exist words in the English language to describe his relief.

"Can I get a name, please?" Andrew requested.

"Tony," I answered before I was sent off to wait for my drinks. Taking a table by the glass walls of the Starbucks so I could people watch as they came and went. Also to make sure no one was going to drive a car through the building. That happened sometimes. Creating a Room secured me from getting hit by a disgruntled employee or something, and it also gave me a tip-off that the person I was waiting for was already here.

Waiting until my fake name was called, I grabbed the lattes and sat at a different table, this one occupied by a young woman in her late teens to early twenties. Raven black hair, amber-colored eyes, and a straight knockout figure if there ever was one. "Cinder," I greeted, passing her a latte, which she accepted gracefully.

"Vincent," Cinder returned, cocking an eyebrow as she drank my appearance in over the rim of her latte. "Do you have something for me?"

In response, I reached into my pocket and took out a folded piece of paper with a list of addresses on it. "Six locations. Russian gun runners under a pawnshop, a smuggling ring down at the docks, and the rest are fronts for the SSS - mixed bag. Drugs, weapons, that sort of thing. All high profile," I told her, passing her the list of addresses.

Cinder gave a dazzling smile in response, "You've done excellent work," she told me, making me return the cocked eyebrow. "You've been sitting on a trove of information, Vincent. If you weren't passing it along to me, then I'd wonder what you'd plan to do with it all." Her tone was low and smoky, giving me a seductive half-lidded gaze while she brushed her leg against mine.

"The information is of limited use to me, I'm afraid. I'd much rather have… goodwill with a rising star," I returned, making Cinder's smile grow a fraction.

The Seven might own New York, but that did not make them its only heroes. There were a number of street-level heroes that were trying to make a name for themselves in the Big Apple. However, none had managed to reach the heights as the most recent up-and-coming hero - Supernova, aka… Cinder Fall.

We had a symbiotic relationship. I gave her information about illegal activities - drug running, high profile murders, gun smuggling, and so on. She made the headline-making busts to put her name on the map. Between her power of superheating objects and her barrier, her natural beauty, and the fact she was downright seductive, Cinder was rapidly becoming a hit and she was getting scouted hard by Vought, who was always looking for talent. In return, I got two things - a hero that focused on my enemies and goodwill with someone that could be joining the Seven one day.

Cinder shifted her leg, her foot traveling up my thigh. "Is that so?" She questioned, leaning forward and propping her head up with a hand, giving me an excellent view of her cleavage. "Then I wonder why you are collecting it at all. The Heart Gang," she said, resting a foot on my crotch, "does not exist, after all."

"That would be telling, now wouldn't it? Let a man keep a couple of secrets. Without my air of mystery, I imagine you'd find me rather boring," I said, taking a stop of my own latte while Cinder seemed to eyefuck me over the table. There was a reason why she was a rising star. She used her beauty as a weapon. Personally, I don't think there was anything sexier than a woman knowing she was hot as fuck and owning it.

Cinder tilted her head to the side ever so slightly, "I wouldn't say that…"

Before the flirting could continue, my phone rang. The flirtatious look in her eyes dropped like an anchor, replaced with cold annoyance when I answered the unknown number. "You have something for me?"

"The location of William Fist. The leader of the Bayers," Robin answered, smug satisfaction in her tone because she knew she had my complete attention. Cinder didn't hear what was said, but she did clearly note my reaction to the words.

William Fist, better known as the Kingpin, was who I was hunting for the past month. The man was so isolated from the gang activities that actually finding him was next to impossible. By the time any of the drug money reached him, it was squeaky clean several times over. Outside of his name the Kingpin, no one knew anything about him. He was practically a ghost. I was starting to think that he wasn't even real, but apparently, Robin had worked her magic to find him.

I took in a slow breath, "Great work, Robin. Looks like it's finally time to kick things in gear," I said once I got the address. A nice penthouse apartment in downtown under a false name.

Cinder gave me an interesting look while I stood up. I gave her a smirk, "You'll learn what I'm going to do with the information soon enough."

"Should I expect any changes in our… relationship?" She questioned, giving me a measuring look.

"Of course. Good changes, for the both of us," I reassured her, catching her interest.

"Then I'll wait with bated breath," she teased, giving me a wink. Taking a last gulp of my half-finished latte, I tossed it into the trash on my way out. Luckily, I actually wasn't that far away from the address listed. Leaving Cinder behind, knowing that she watched me go, I dismissed the Room and it shrunk back into the palm of my hand. One limitation of my power - I could only have one Room, and it was completely stationary. The problem would be mitigated when I increased the size of my Room, but for now, it was an annoying limitation.

The building itself wasn't that far off from Vought headquarters - a massive building that dwarfed any other in New York's skyline. It was round with cool blue glass windows all the way up, except for the spiral 7 that coiled around the building. The Seven were absolutely everywhere. I couldn't even blink without seeing some mention of them somewhere.

I scanned the lobby for the building I entered, curious if I would see Robin. For all I knew, she was in the lobby but she didn't make herself known to me. Not even now when we were on the cusp of a new chapter in our lives. There was a pleased smile on my face as I entered the elevator and pressed the highest floor that would take me just under the penthouse. I couldn't use the private penthouse elevator, unfortunately. A pleasant tune played as I was carried up, people getting on and off every couple of floors made it evident enough why the penthouse got its own elevator.

But, after what felt like minutes, I arrived at the next highest floor. Stepping out of the elevator, the silver doors closed behind me as I found myself in a cream-colored hallway marked with brown doors that were each marked with a number. There were paintings and vases in the hallway to sell the idea that it was high class, but I recognized cheap carpet when I saw it.

"Room," I intoned, making a Room that quickly encased the rooms around me and poked into the penthouse upstairs. Finding an empty room down the hall, I switched places with an icebreaker on the ground in a luxurious bedroom that had a gorgeous view of the city. The room was completely unmade - trash on the ground, clothes, even old condoms. Gross.

Within my Room, I could make anything switch places. I wasn't limited by mass at all. My limit was that teleporting an unwilling target was far more difficult than switching a willing one. Also, what I was switching with couldn't be tied down. Not without taking the entire thing. My Room could poke through surfaces like it was with the Penthouse. However, the ceiling above me was whole, so I couldn't do something like take a chunk of it and replace it with a blanket, or something. I would need to cut a chunk off, so it would be loose, then I could change places with it.

Remaking a Room, I felt two people above me. One was Mike. He wasn't the Kingpin's right-hand man, but he was a high-end dealer. The kind that only ever showed up for deals that eclipsed nine digits because anything below that was too small for him. I couldn't hear what they were discussing, annoyingly enough. Within a Room, I was just aware of everything that was inside, and what went on, but I couldn't see, hear, or smell everything within the Room. Though, I could guess what they were talking about.

Me. The Heart Gang. A gang that didn't exist yet brought in the purest cocaine ever seen. My bet was that Mike was trying to warm William Fist up to the idea of a more permanent trade between us. That wouldn't happen. It had literally taken all month for me to make that much pure cocaine. Totally not worth the hassle.

While I waited for Mike to finish up his sales pitch, I wandered into the living room to see that it was similarly messy. Thankfully, the kitchen was well stocked, so I made myself a sandwich. It took a long fifteen minutes before Mike left my Room. I waited a long fifteen more to make sure that he was gone before I made my move. William Fist was sitting behind a desk, a computer in front of him as he typed away.

I took a pen from his desk and replaced our positions, making me appear on his desk without any warning and the first thing I saw was that his name was completely misleading. William Fist was the most average-looking guy I had ever seen in my life. Brown hair, brown eyes, average looks, average height, average weight. His eyes flew open as he flinched back in his chair, a hand going for a gun that I replaced with a paperclip so the Glock appeared next to me.

"Hello there," I greeted the Kingpin of New York City, pointing the gun at him after flicking off the safety. I thought I would get blustering. Shouting. Threats. Instead, Al threw his hands up.

"Fuck me, you're a Supe," he breathed, looking very nervous. "Look, take what you want. I have money on the safe," he said, looking at a painting on the wall while I took a seat on his desk with him in his chair pressed up against the wall.

"No thanks, not here for money," I told him, setting the gun to the side. "My ears were burning, so I thought I'd pop in to see what you were saying." William was already a pale guy, but the blood drained from his face, leaving him white as a sheet.

"You're the guy Mike ripped off? Shit, man, all you had to say was that you were a Supe and none of this would have happened. Look, I'm sorry, alright? How can I make it right," He said, lowering his hands just a little bit as the surprise wore off. His brown eyes flickered to the gun, silently debating if he should lunge for it. I took a moment to check out his office. It was… dull. Bookshelves built into the walls that were loaded up, paintings spaced between them, a nice desk with two chairs in front of it, and behind William was a glass window that overlooked the city.

"Don't really care about the cocaine," I admitted, turning my attention back to him. That caught him off guard. He licked his lips, his mind racing.

"Then… why are you here?" He asked directly, lowering his hands a little more. He sounded more confused than scared at this point. I guess you couldn't run a massive kingpin empire without having something resembling a spine.

I gave him a measuring look. If it wasn't for Mike being here, I'd honestly think that I had the wrong guy. "I suppose introductions are in order - my name is Lawrence, but my friends get to call me Law. And you're William Fist, better known as the Kingpin, correct? The kingpin of New York City? Leader of the Bayers? Coke kings? Gun runners, killers for higher, smugglers, and dope dealers? That is you, right?"

"Why would you like to know?" He asked me, his hands going to his lap and I started to see that spine in him. His gaze was calculating and cold, still uncertain why I was here but he had an inkling why now.

I gave him a winning smile, "Because," I started, leaning forward a bit, "I would like to become your boss."

William laughed. It escaped him before he could stop it. A complete disbelieving laugh as if I had said something so incredibly stupid that he couldn't do anything but laugh. Yet, as he laughed, his gaze sharpened until it was as sharp as any knife. He took a moment to collect himself, wiping the smile off of his face, but it still lingered as a grin at the edges. "And why would you want that?"

My smile grew, "Because I'm a dreamer, Will. I've always dreamed big. I will admit even though it's going to sound edgy as fuck that I wasn't like the other kids growing up. I'm sure you understand - for the past twenty years… every kid in America wanted to grow up to be just like Homelander. I mean, the rest of the Seven are heroes, but he's the coolest. The strongest. Fuckin' shoots lasers out of his eyes. He's the last symbol of the American dream not currently dead in a ditch," I told him and, despite himself, I saw that Al knew what I meant.

Homelander was everywhere. I don't think there was anyone on Earth as famous as he was. For good reason. The guy could do anything – he could fly, he was super strong, and he could tank a tank shell to the face, and not even flinch. My childhood - everyone's childhood in the past twenty years - had revolved around Homelander and his exploits. The man's birthday was a national holiday.

"But, I never wanted to be him, you know?" I spoke, gazing deep into William's eyes. "Nah. That just never sounded any fun to me. I mean, what's the point? Homelander is Homelander because there's no one else like him. That's what makes him special. Being just like him, well… that makes him not special anymore." I expounded, sliding off of his desk and pointedly placing a hand on the gun, which made William still. "It never really mattered to me one way or the other, though. I mean, I was just a normal guy. No powers. No connections. Just a normal guy with an above-average GPA in his final year of high school."

That, I saw, threw him through a loop because Supes were born with their powers. They were God's chosen and all of that shit. People weren't meant to spontaneously develop powers.

"That only changed recently. Very, very recently," I admitted. "I got an opportunity. I got my hands on real power and when I did, I had to ask myself… what would I do with it?" I said, picking up the gun before I held it out to William to take. His gaze flickered between me and the gun and, hesitantly, almost as if he was wary of a trap, he accepted the gun from me. "And I decided to dust off my childhood dream."

William was interested, even as he pointed the gun directly at my head with his finger on the trigger.

"I decided I would be the one to beat Homelander. Tear down the Seven. And Vought. The whole damn world if I want to," I told him, leaning forward so my forehead was touching the barrel of the gun. "My dream as a kid? I wanted to be the world's first Supervillain."

William adjusted his grip, his hand steady as a surgeon. "I don't see where I factor into that," he told me.

"You'll work for me going forward. Nothing really needs to change in your day-to-day operations. You're free to go on as things have except for two changes - you jump when I say to jump, and there will be a fifteen percent kick up." I told him and he laughed lightly at that.

"And if I refuse?" He asked, moving the barrel so that it was directly pointed at my eye. Supes tended to be bulletproof, but a shot to the eye was a shot to the eye.

"I wasn't really asking," I told him and the moment the words left my lips, William pulled the trigger.

Well, he would have if I didn't replace the gun with a paperclip. His finger curled around empty air, his eyes going wide while my hand shot out like a bullet. "Scalpel," I intoned, my fingertips touching the flesh over William's heart and knocking it clean out of his chest. Replacing it with a piece of paper, I held William's heart in my hand while his went to the empty square hole on his chest. He furiously patted his chest down, looking wide-eyed at the thumping heart in my hand that worked as normal. Blood still surged through his veins. His heart itself, though, was just removed from his body.

"Fifteen percent kick up, Will. You jump when I say jump. Stiff me once? Disobey an order? I have your life in the palm of my hands," I told him, giving a small squeeze to his heart and William dropped to the ground, clutching his chest as he cried out in pain. "This will be coming with me. Maybe, just maybe, if you're a good boy then I'll think about giving this back. Until then…?"

William gasped for breath, looking up at me with terror in his eyes. "F-fifteen percent. Jump when you say jump."

"Good," I told him, giving him a lopsided grin. "I expect the first kick up by the end of the day. Cash. You'll take it to Central Park, your usual dead drop, and if you try something…"

I heard him gulp, "Then I'm a dead man. I know the drop. I'll… you'll get your money."

"That's what I wanted to hear. Keep it up and you might actually live through this," I told him and, with that, I replaced myself with a used condom on the floor below us.

After a long month of waiting, it was finally here.

My first step to becoming a Supervillain.

Welcome to the first chapter of The Good Life! Some of you might recognize this from my Ideas Pile thread, but after about 6 months of cooking, it's become its own story while I rework From the Ashes. The knock off some of the important bits out of the way:

I'm playing around with the WC formula a little bit. All of the Waifus were purchased without a binding option, which released them into the wild, so to speak. Law will have to stumble across them as the story progresses, which works because they all are the type to make a big splash. The waifus know that they're in a new world, but they don't know that they were purchased from the WC or about each other. Law knows that he is a contractor, but not who he purchased.

Another important thing to note - Law will be a straight villain. I straddled the line with Vergil St. Jude in See No Evil and tested what I could get away with as a 'Justified' villain with Azoth in From the Ashes. But, the goal is to have Law be entertaining to watch even as he's being a royal prick and explore how his villainy evolves.

This story is a jumpchain. Each jump will be as long as I feel it needs to be - basically when I'm satisfied that I've properly explored the setting, accomplished the main goal of that setting, and gotten everything I wanted from it. The Boys' jump will be in the ballpark of 30-40 chapters.

Lastly, here is the build that I'm using:

Starting World: The Boys

Starting budget 140


Me and My Girlfriend(s)(PvE) +0 [140]

Dropped-In -0 [140]


Love Spot -20 [120]

Sticky Fingers -5 [115]


Template Stacking I[You have Trafalgar D. Water Law (One Piece)] -20 [95]

Generic Waifu Perks

Paper Trail x3 [Cinder Fall, Asami Sato, Rumi "Mirko" Usagiyama] -3 [92]

Companions bought -92 [0]

Cinder Fall(T5) from RWBY

Rumi "Mirko" Usagiyama(T5) from My Hero Academia

Shihouin Yoruichi(T7) from Bleach

Nico Robin(T6) from One Piece

Asami Sato(T3) from Avatar