AUTHOR'S NOTE: This fiction, and its characters, is all my own, original work. NO STEALING!!

Of Gods and Children

Chapter One: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

"It's so hot!" Veronica moaned, wiping the sweat from her eyes. She stood in front of her apartment, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the afternoon sun. They finally settled in the bright, cheerful light, and she started the short walk to the nearby university. Veronica stopped to look in the window of a nearby electronic store at her reflection. Her dark, shoulder length hair was thrust haphazardly in a high ponytail and her caramel skin was beaded with the exertions of her brisk stride. Her gray eyes sparkled behind the protection of her rose-colored shades.

Veronica grimaced lightly, noticing that her light pink top was getting noticeably darker around the collar. Waterlogged as well. She sighed. 'It's too late to go back for another shirt,' she thought despondently. She sighed, winked at her reflection, and walked away. 'It's not so bad,' she told herself, trying to think about things other than her increasingly soaked attire. A sudden scream from a nearby alley caught her attention.

Veronica stopped, gently set her backpack on the ground, and peered into the dark alleyway. Two very large men were doing some serious damage to an old, homeless man. The man was considerably smaller than the other two, disheveled and rather filthy. Veronica sighed and took a look around her. Everyone else seemed to be oblivious to the whole situation, and knowing that she would most likely need a little help (the other men were considerably taller than her too), she shrugged and reached for her pack, intending to leave.

'Besides,' she told herself, 'it would really suck to be late for your first day of college.' A sudden smack of skin against skin and a grunt of pain recaptured her attention to the ever-worsening scene behind her. Veronica whirled around to see the elderly gentleman crumple to the ground holding his nose, blood trickling through his fingers and down his dirty tattered coat. The two men snickered and continued the beating, jeering at the man's cries of agony.

"Come on, you old fart! Give us what we want, and we'll kill you quickly."

The other man sneered and landed a kick to the old man's ribs. "Yeah, old timer, we could do this all day."

Veronica started to shake with fury. 'How could they treat this man in such a way, as if he were no more important than some disobedient dog?' She slowly reached inside her pack and pulled out the thickest book she could find. Assuring herself that the two men were preoccupied, she crept slowly behind them, the book raised high above her head. When she was in close enough range, she quickly brought the book down on the base of the man's skull with a sickening thunk. The other man turned around just in time for her to smash the book into his jaw. Both men slumped into unconsciousness.

"Are you alright?" she asked the homeless man as she helped him to his feet. He rose stiffly, rubbing the

side of his face. Veronica dusted him off, some maternal instinct needing to assure him that his frightening ordeal was over.

"How did you find me?" he whispered.

Veronica raised an eyebrow in his direction, surprised. "I walked pass the alley and saw you."

His eyes widened, shock emanating in their dark, glassy depths. "You saw us?"

Veronica rolled her eyes in disgust. 'Here I am, thinking I'm helping him, and he turns out to be just another crazy.' She turned to face him, her brushing and arranging of his clothes coming to an abrupt halt.

"Yes, I saw you! Why? What's the big dea-" She squealed as he enfolded his arms around her, clutching her in a fierce embrace.

"thank you, thank you, thank -" he repeated, his eyes closed and his head against her shoulder. Veronica gasped, all the breath escaping her in this crushing hold. He started to bounce with her, and that's when she realized that there wasn't a smudge of dirt on his face. Blood either.

'Just what is going on?' She tried to jerk herself out of his arms, to no avail. As her struggling grew frantic, Veronica found herself starting to regret rescuing the man. A sudden blow to the back of her head scattered her thoughts, sending her fast into unconsciousness.