Hero

The mask is really damn itchy, I wasn't expecting that and it is really hard to ignore, I guess I shouldn't have made it out of cotton. I put it on in the bathroom when I heard the gunshot and the screams, I wonder if there are any cameras in there.

"Come on, my friend," a tall man at the teller's desk says. "Put all the money you can fit into this bag and you probably won't catch any bullets."

It's strange, he sounds nice, but he is robbing a bank, all dressed in black and holding a gun. But he doesn't have a ski mask on like you would expect, or like TV has lead me to expect, he is wearing a gas mask, a black military looking one.

The teller takes the bag and begins to furiously pack it with the money that it appears someone was taking into the vault. There are five cameras in the room, I remember that from when I came in, and none of them look into the vault, most of the time they can't even see where the man is standing. I spent a while in the line and I am easily bored.

There are no accomplices and the masked man makes no move to stop the teller as he hits the alarm, shutting the gates around the building and presumably alerting the authorities. The man with the gun is unfazed by this turn of events and keeps the gun levelled at the teller.

I don't even know what to say now that I'm here. I'm confident that I am not in danger from this man, but I don't have any idea what I should say to him. Do they ever say anything in the movies? Does the superhero ever say anything first, or do they talk later?

I can only think of one thing to say. "Put the gun down," I tell the man, trying to put as much authority as I can into the words.

The man glances at me, I can't see his eyes past the mask.

"For some reason I was expecting someone with a gun," he tells the teller, who is still packing money into his bag.

The teller doesn't reply, obviously, just continues as instructed.

"Why should I put the gun down, masked man?" he asks me. "So that you can take up where I leave off?"

"You're wearing a mask too," I point out.

"I know why I am wearing a mask, but not why you are," he tells me.

The teller runs out of room in the bag and looks up at the man. The masked man looks away from me and puts his gun away, reaching into his coat to do so. He turns away from me and takes the bag back from the teller, thanking the man.

I run at him while his back is turned.

I am faster than any other human alive, stronger too, except for him. His hand comes back out of his coat, not holding the gun. He turns and grabs me, then, using my own momentum in a move that I learned way back when I was doing some martial arts, throws me through the plate glass in front of the teller's desk and into the vault.

"It is nice to meet another like me," he informs me from behind the mask, "but I must be on my way."

I barely manage to get up before he breaks the doors open, despite the bars that have come down across them. Now everyone is looking at me, the guy with the mask on. I leap the counter and follow the man outside.

He's gone.

I can hear police sirens, and they are close, I duck into an alley and check for people before removing the mask. I really hope there was no camera in the bathroom, though it is pretty obvious that it was me, I was the only person in there, that I know of.

I jog home and have a shower.

There's a piece of paper in my jacket pocket that I didn't notice before. I wonder what it is and so pull it out. Even though it must be a receipt I still check it. I am just like that, if I have something in my pocket and am not certain of what it is, I will check.

It's a note. 'Nice to meet someone like me, at least a bit,' it says. 'Please contact me, I wish to talk about this with someone.'

Did he already have one of these in his pocket? He must have pulled it out when he was putting his gun away. Why did he have a gun if he is like me? But the answer is pretty obvious, being fast and strong isn't as quick as having a gun.

You can't intimidate people quite as fast.

The note also has a phone number on it, I guess someone has put some thought into this. I certainly haven't, I just figured that since I am so much faster and stronger than most people I could just run around thwarting crime or something.

I put the note down next to my phone and forget about it. It isn't so much that I don't want to talk to him about it, I'm just not sure that I want to talk to him at all. He's obviously a criminal, he robbed a bank, that I happened to be in.

But I had finished my transaction, so it had no effect on me. Except that it is really hard to reach a piece of glass in your own back. Especially around the small of your back, or at least mine. I'm not really flexible enough to reach it.

But I got it out, after something of a struggle.

I don't even know how it got there, my coat isn't that thin, though my t-shirt is, and the hole wasn't in my coat. I have to get another t-shirt now. All the problems I have. I can't help but smile at that thought, as I always do when I have it.

I have led a very nice cushy life up until this point. I have problems to do with comfort and none to do with life. I only have a job because otherwise I'd probably never get out but for my classes, and even that much is debatable, considering the amount I skip.

I sit down at my computer and seriously consider doing some work for almost ten minutes.

He answers on the second ring. "Good to hear from you, masked man," he says into the phone.

His voice is quite low and rough, the way he talks is not in keeping with the voice. I had thought it was the gasmask that made him sound like that, but I doubt he is still wearing it. I find that it doesn't suit my image of him somehow. He sounds almost like a criminal.

I really have no idea what to say now that I have called.

"I guess you still don't know what to say," he comments. "I wish that would happen to me from time to time, maybe I would regret less of the things I have said."

"Your note said you wanted to talk about it," I say.

"To the point," he comments. "Another thing I wish I could be. I do wish to talk about this thing that we seem able to do, but I don't much want to talk about it over the phone, if you don't mind."

I'm not sure for a moment. "Alright," I tell him. "Any preference?"

"None," he replies. "I leave it to your discretion."

I give him the name of my workplace, I am working tomorrow anyway. "Do you know it?" I ask.

"I do," he tells me. "A friend of mine works there."

There are two other people who work at the café, Tina and Mark, who's the manager. Mark doesn't have friends, so I guess that means Tina.

"Though I haven't talked to her for a while," he continues, obviously he means Tina. "But that is beside the point, when do you want to meet?"

"How about tomorrow?" I ask.

"That isn't really specific enough for me," he comments.

"Around one?" I suggest, I start work at three, but usually get there early when I skip whatever class I should be in.

"Sure," he tells me. "See you then."

I hang up without saying anything more. He actually sounds really friendly, I noticed it at the bank but it just doesn't seem right at all. And he did throw me through a plate of safety glass. So maybe he isn't so nice, of course I guess I tried to attack him unprovoked.

Sort of. I don't really know how to think about it, there was no direct provocation certainly but that doesn't mean that I was not justified in trying to stop him, does it? I don't think it does, but I wouldn't really know, would I?

I think too hard about arbitrary details.

When I get to work at one the next day there is a tall man wearing all black talking to Tina at the counter, she looks a bit angry.

"You were back and you didn't tell me?" she demands.

"I've only been back two months," he defends himself, it is the bank robber he is so easy to identify by the voice it is almost strange.

"If you've been back for more than a day then you have no excuse," she informs him tersely.

"I'll concede that," he says. "I have no excuse."

"No, you don't," she tells him.

"I apologise for not coming to see you sooner," he says. "There were some issues that came up, but that doesn't not mean I can excuse myself of it."

"So, did you get shot?" she asks him. "Is that why you're back?"

"I did, and it isn't," he tells her. "I came back because I didn't want to shoot anyone else without reason, there is no point to my being there, or anyone's being there."

"Isn't that what I told you when you left?" she asks.

"Didn't you tell me to stay because you loved me?" he asks with a smile. "Or was that your father?"

"Quit being shitty," she instructs him. "And it was my brother."

"Someone in your family," he says. "Good to see you again by the way."

"We missed that bit, didn't we?" she asks. "Good to see you too."

"I think I'm keeping someone waiting," he says, and moves away from the counter to let me approach.

"You didn't order," Tina tells him.

"I still don't drink coffee," he tells her. "And I don't eat as much as I used to."

Tina notices me. "Hey Sam," she says. "Shouldn't you be in class?"

"Does it usually make a difference?" I ask her.

She sighs. "What can I get you?"

"The usual," I tell her.

She goes over to the coffee maker and begins the process.

"Good to see you, masked man," the man who was talking to Tina before says.

"I'm not wearing a mask," I point out.

"Nice to meet you Sam," he says, offering a hand. "I'm Thane."

A/N: I actually wrote this quite a while ago, and I finally decided to upload it. It was sort of a study for a situation that I intended to write about. I still intend to write about it and this story isn't quite accurate anymore, though it is close enough.