The hero was old before his time.

He did his job. He saved people. He accepted their thanks, but without the genuinely charming and gentle embarrassment that had accompanied him like a cloak in the early days.

He saved lives. It was that single thought that he clung to in times of despair, when cynicism threatened to shroud him.

It was said that he once threw quips at his opponents like darts; in a never ending battle against mediocrity, he was special. And he was special, back then.

Others could remember when he smiled. It had been a smile that could light a room, and showed his enthusiasm for life, for people, for his chosen vocation.

He rarely smiled any more.

But he did his job.

He did it efficiently, but without the passion for truth and justice that it was rumoured had once fuelled his activities.

It would be easy to blame the occasional defeats, those times when he had been just a second too slow in getting there, a moment too long in deducing the villainous plan, an instant taken in contemplation when action was required.

After so many years, what did caring about the motivations of the hero matter?

After all, he did his job.

Day in, day out. Night in, night out, he did his job.

But somewhere, late at night, in the depths of the darkness in his soul, one wondered whether he even knew what the job was any more.

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