*bzzzt...* *bzzzt...*


To Be A Hero

VOL. 1, CHAPTER 2: -JUST ANOTHER DAY-

Written by Dudebroman

Genre: Action, Romance, Drama, Comedy

"This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or

used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Rated T for Mature Audiences: Strong Language, Suggestive Themes, Adult Situations, Violence

"Enjoy!" - Dudebroman


The soft vibrations rattled me from the comfort of my bed. The dullness of it reminded my body of the debacle earlier causing the even of the kind, forgiving surface of my bed sheet to feel like sand paper against the tenderness of my BBQ'd skin. It also feels like I have lead weights haphazardly strapped on my shoulders and back. That's another characteristic side-effect of that ultra-steroid I took earlier, no doubt. Had I known that Scandalous woman would show up, I wouldn't have even bothered standing up at that time... And now, I barely can even muster the strength to stand up at all.

*bzzzt.* *bzzzt.*

There we go. Its those vibrations again...

*Bzzzt!* *Bzzzt!*

The vibrations got stronger and I buried my face into the soft lump that was my pillow to vent my frustration. "MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF.""

Why!? Who the hell is calling right now? Seriously who? The heck..! Its a Monday, this was supposed to be an off day for me... Not to mention the fact that I just got done fighting a badass supervillain! Leave me alone you cretin..!

With great effort and pain, I reached over to my head to my phone which had been charging on an end table and ignored the call.

*bip.*

Hell as if I'm answering that.

*bzzzt.* *bzzz-* *bip.*

Nope, still not answering that.

*bzzzt..* *bzzzt..*

Phone... I like you... I really do, so please don't give me a reason to drop you in the toilet by 'accident'!

I hit the ignore icon on the screen once more and let out an ugly chimera of a sigh and a cough.

*bzzzt* *bzz-* *THUD!*

I slammed my hand on my phone, locked it in a death grip and brought it up to my face.

This morning dance of death ends now. ...Whoever the fuck you are, you've officially just landed yourself on my friggin' hit list.

I wrench my eyes open and see in bold green letters the caller I.D. of the Professor alongside an unfocused, up-close picture of his labrador mix, Cunningham.

Why do I even bother!?

Sighing I bring the phone to my ear and accept the call, and immediately regret it.

"Ah... Well if it isnt Mr. W to the E Y from the land of! Come swing those hips around over to daddy now and give him a smack on the cheek! Didn't you know I'm missing you very much..!" A husky rich dulcet tone threatened to reach down to the depths of my soul, causing the frayed hairs on the back of my neck stand up.

"Burn." I manage to spit out with as much rancor and rage as I could muster within a split-second.

"Hehehe..!" The giggling of the tittering twit irritated my ear to no end. "Looks, somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed today~!"

*bip*

I end the call and go back to sleep.

*bzzt* *bzz-* *Bip.*

"I'm sorry, I should get to the point." Kilgore seemed insincere with that apology as he was still giggling about like an idiot. "Weyland, do you know what day it is?"

"Its Monday the 18th of December, duh." I retort pulling myself out of bed with a heave. I already know this man isn't gonna leave me alone.

"Noo! I don't mean that..! You're so cold today hon, what's wrong? Broke up with a girlfriend?" I can almost imagine him behind is desk pitching up his trade mark finger triangle, wry grin carried out by pearly white teeth preparing to screw with me.

"I'm ending call." I threaten. I am soooo not in the mood for this crap!

"Morning Dmitri is such a grump! I prefer the evening Dmitri, he's more fun." The mental image of the professor in my mind is now giving me a puppy dog pout.

"Then by all means you can talk to him when the time comes. Hell, maybe he'll even be up for whatever shenanigans you have planned for me today, but right now I'm just not up for whatever inane agenda you've got brewing in your witch cauldron of tricks."

"Sorry but this isn't a one on one date, I assure you! Why in fact... —Its quite the mixer of I do say so my naughty self..!" The image now wraps his stupidly big arm around my mental self's shoulder while assuring me this might even be fun.

Damn it. Its that conference...

Upon hearing those words, I grumble some more internally but haul myself off my bed and towards the couch where a lazy, splayed out pair of black slacks reside. "You mean the Powered Society Symposium-whatever thing?" I ask rhetorically while slipping one leg inside. I didn't care about conference at all, but if he's calling about it, he's probably gonna force me to go either way.

"Yeah that's the thing sugar, I'm glad you remembered! Yay!"

"Fine." Groaning, I button up my trousers, then reach for my old grey coat that was a hand-me-down from Dad. In one smooth motion I slip it over my arms and shoulders as he always diligently taught me how to do. 'The ladies will love it!' I can remember him saying that with a goofy grin as I button it up. Thanks Dad, I guess...

"Sorry for making you do this hon! I know you like to sleep-in on days like this..!" Mental professor starts patting my shoulder while scratching the back of his head, looking away with a sheepish grin.

"Don't make me regret my decision..." I move over to a drawer to pull out some socks.

"Hehehehee!" His deep laugh suddenly tickled my ear.

"What's funny?" I walk over to the door and slip my loafers on.

"Its funny that you thought you had a choice at all! Tee hee!" Mental professor starts growing twisted horns, a spindly tail, and obtains a penchant for holding pitchforks. "I've got your portfolio on my desk right in front of me and it looks one pen mark away from an N.C."

Ngh!? Dastard! This man is pure evil, I swear..!

"Remember Dmitri, I'm not the one cutting the rope over the proverbial hot pot! I'm just the cook stirring the stew! Passing is your responsibility! But in your case, attendance is your responsibility! Remember that always young padawan!" He ends the conversation with a short sermon and mental image Professor winks. "It would be rude to keep your favorite darling professor waiting so hurry up, the conference starts in at twelve! Ta ta!"

*bip*

Perhaps I should switch my major from psychology to philosophy instead. At least that way, when the instructor asks why I'm absent, I'd always have an interesting topic for my next paper... The wonders of philosophy opens up many paths for the lazy. And fortunately, one of the two instructors who teach philosophy, Professor Chang, doesn't seem like the type that would hold my credits at gun point. Its a seductive idea, one worth well considering..!

My eyes move to the time on the top right of my phone. The number displayed in tiny white letters was 11:02 AM which made my heart sink. Ehh, maybe I'll just take the train instead of driving there myself, it would probably be faster...

"Ngghhhhh..." I vent out one last residual groan of despair and anguish before head out the door.

*Squeak* *Creak...* *Thud!*


...Warming temperatures my ass!

I curse aloud in my mind as I step down the station steps into about an inch of freshly combed snow. A bitter chill blew my way sending my body temperature plummeting below comfortable. This is the exact opposite of me getting my ass roasted by that terrorist earlier today! Eugh..! Fate is in bed with irony today no doubt.

Frick! Its colder than the wicked witch of the east's tits here! What gives!?

I whip out my phone demanding answers, when an alert pops up on its screen. A public message from the Municipal Office greets me.

-SUDDEN SNOWFALL WARNING-

This is an public alert message from the Mayor's office of Achney.
A sudden snowfall warning is issued across the state/county/city: ACHNEY CITY
Understand that snowfall may occur in your area, please prepare for any sudden
alterations to the weather. Bring heavy clothing, and bundle up!
Some services may be slowed or halted during snowfall so please
plan accordingly. Thank you for your understanding: DMITRI.
And have a nice day.
—Ford Benning, Achney City Mayor

Oh that's just peachy... Haaaahhh... I can tell this is gonna be a long day... A very long day...

I travel along the curb melting into the mild pedestrian traffic as I head over to my university. My legs creaked with each step I took, still trembling from the previous beating. Its actually only holding out right now because of that drug I took earlier, later I might just collapse suddenly once the effects wear off. However, in spite of my weakness I walk briskly, trying to shake off the dull ache from my body to keep warm and make pace.

Hmm... I could go for some caffeine in my veins. That black coffee from Achney Bean Co. earlier was a savory little treat. I wouldn't mind going for another, however a problem presents itself; Achney Bean is all the way across the city. I'm not opposed to taking another train just to grab it, but I there's scarcely any time left for that blessed diversion. I glance at my phone again the time displays 11:48. Twelve mere minutes is not enough time for a round trip and back. Shame about that, really.

I wonder if there's a convenience store nearby... Anything will do. I've been awake since 1' in the morning, and I have these wicked eyebag that make me look like a drug addict shooting up some heroin. Heck, even without that I still probably look like shit. I haven't shaved in a week, nor did I comb my hair. (Not that it needed combing mind you, short hair is pretty easy to manage.)

Permitting an undisciplined yawn to escape, I look to the both sides of the street and eventually find a little J-mart store not too far out of the way to the Cromwell's campus. Not wasting any time, I enter it and rejoice at the humble warmth this little shop offered me.

*ding ding ding*

A little buzzer rang behind me as the automatic door slid shut. The pleasant warm air hitting my cheeks as I shuffle in.

"Mornin'." A dull greeting escaped the lips of an equally dull looking clerk, his pale face was planted on his phone.

"Good morning." I return the greeting firmly, nodding at him with a faint smile and rubbing my gloved hands together to dispel the chill.

Its empty in here... I note the stocked shelves, and colorful wrappers around the cozy store but its oddly vacant. I don't presume a lot of people come at his hour as most people are going about their day, but it feels kinda lonely in here you know? Despite all the commuters you could see walking by the broad glass windows outside, there is a prevailing silence peculiar to only these types of stores at this time of day, and the night shift.

Not wasting any precious time, I quickly locate a can Madame Black's coffee in its iconic small steel container and bring it up to the register.

"That'll be one twenty-five sir." The clerk's voice repeats mechanically as I pull out my wallet and hand him a two dollar bills. He hits up the register, places the bills neatly inside and hands me my change and the receipt, pushing the Madame Black to me. "You have a nice day sir."

"Thanks, you too." I reply in same tone taking the receipt but I stop for a moment. "Oh hey, did you hear about the snowfall warning thing?"

"Wait, what snowfall thing?" He looks outside and cocks his head. "There was something like that?"

"Oh yeah, you can't see it very well from inside here, since the windows are tinted and all, but yeah its snowing out there."

"Shoot, really? Man, I got a kid in middle-school right now. I gotta pick her up later!" The clerk's once emotionless expression changes beneath his square glasses into one surprise. "She goes to a private school you see, but the bus doesn't usually go her route so we usually let her just commute. I dunno know if she's wearing any of her snow coats right now... Damn bro, thanks for letting me know."

"Oh man, no prob." I nod and smile. "Actually, there was a city wide alert message, you didn't get it?" I whip out my phone and show him the message.

"Seriously?" The man fixes his glasses and squints at my phone before looking back at his. "Man, I didn't get it. The signal is spotty in this building. Seriously you saved my skin dude..!" He chuckles warmly and a small smile creeps up on his face. "I wouldn't know what to do if you didn't tell me... And if she caught a cold trying to go home... Then I... Er... I... " His lenses seemed to slightly fog at this and he sniffled a bit looking down for a moment, his cheeks turning a little red... "Shit, the hell her mama up in heaven gonna tell me once I get there. huh?" The clerk brought a shabby handkerchief and started wiping his face with it. "Oh yo sorry man, I didn't mean to break on you like that."

Huh, is this guy emotional type? Maybe he realized something as we talked? That certainly feels like the case. The moment I saw him, he seemed sort of dead inside. That one look of a tired everyday, tasteless life that can suddenly creep up and become the norm. Its a scary thing to fall into... Besides this place appeared a little too lonely, so I decided to strike up some small talk. However, it inadvertently looks like I preserved the warmth of a young lady too. That's a bonus.

Everyone has issues going on in their lives, so I don't always presume to know whats going on but it sounds that this guy has a been through the ringer.

"No its okay, I get it you dude there's no shame in venting." I nod sternly, refusing his apologies. "Precious things we gotta keep safe huh? Guys like us need something like that to keep us going." I lean on the counter and look into his eyes. "It's incredibly important."

"Yea, man. Yea..." The guy sniffles nodding at me, wiping his face with a handkerchief. "That's real talk right there. Shit... Bring it here man, yo thanks." He stretches out his right hand, which I take and we shoulder bump each other gently, and I pat his back.

"Keep your happiness close my friend, always next your heart." I say pulling out of our little bro moment.

"Oh man, you just made my day bro. Heheh.." He chuckles a bit and he looks at the can of coffee in my hands. "Oh you know what, come back here, that one's on me."

*Ding ding ding*

I look to the little can myself then back to him, but I shake my head. "Ah no man, nah. It's alright, thank you though."

"No man, don't make me drag your ass back here myself if you walk out." He threatens me tenderly. "I got you."

"N-no no..." I stammer out. "I didn't chat with you to get a free can of coffee. That wasn't my intention." I try to reason with him but he shook his head.

"I know it wasn't, but your dumb luck got you it anyway. C'mon lemme do something nice for once." He gave me an strong insistent glare.

"Ah no, seriously dude I—" I was about to finish my sentence but the clerk's face suddenly darkened to a horrified stare.

"What? What's up?" I ask him and try to turn around but as I do...

*Click*

Well shit, that's a disappointingly familiar sound.

"Don't turn around!" A deep boyish-sounding voice mutters behind me, as something cold and metal is shoved into the back of me head. "Hands up."

Fuck. Me.

I look at the clerk and his hands are already up, his face contorted in silent yet powerful uneasiness. I sigh before doing the same bringing my hands up, letting the Madame Black drop.

Darn it... If only I had my supersuit, then I could take a few bullets maybe... —HHMM!?

I feel something small suddenly touch me, and it took me a moment to realize that my robber's fingers lifted up my coat and was searching my back pockets.

"Woah, h-hey there! If you touch my butt so suddenly then I'll be getting mixed messages! I wouldn't know whether to be terrified or intrigued!" I joke defiantly but my joke was met with nothing but cold, rounded steel to the nape of the neck.

*Thwap!*

"Arghh! Ow!" I felt a dull pain surge from the spot where he hit me. It was still sore from when I flew into that fire hydrant earlier, so that hurt like hell. "You ever consider not hitting the person whose ass you've fondled!? That doesn't make for a healthy first impression for a blind date! To be honest, I feel instead that I should be getting thanked for my immaculate posterior service!"

"Shut up!" The voice screams at me. I couldn't tell what my attacker was, it sounded far too gender neutral. It could be a kid, and their hands certainly seem small enough to quickly rife through my pockets.

I turn to look outside the large tinted window to see if anyone noticed this robbery, but from the way we're positioned the robber seems to be using me to hide from the crowd...

Oh that's smart.

—Is what I would say if that were actually necessary... Because the fact of the matter is no one seems to be looking in at all! They're all on their phones! The thief could stand right in front of the window and aim out into the street and even then they wouldn't notice. Come on people..! Are we in a society that can't live without the luminescent touch of smartphones!? What are you people gonna do if you're not aware of the dangers that lurk around the shadowy nooks and crannies in our everyday urban jungle! Sorry is what you're gonna be..!

"Where the is your wallet?" The robber gruffly demanded, to which I responded promptly.

"Front pocket of my coat."

"..." The voice goes silent for a moment, and I see a figure looming behind me and a shadow being cast left from the corner of my eye. The shadow seems hesitant and tries to move in front of me, but it keeps turning its head towards, what I think are the windows.

And quickly before I could make any more observations, the robber shouts at me again, pulling the frigid, icy barrel away from my head.

"Turn around, face me." He barks and I slowly turn around. facing what appears to be a short teenage girl.

Though I was expecting to see the putrid face of a robber that I could enjoy the sight of to hate, what I got instead was something that hit me hard. She looked like she was just a brat... Probably about middle or high school age. Clad in the covers of a grey hoodie, base-ball cap, and a flu mask, it disarmed me how much desperation was scrawled upon her face. Instead of a hardened look of a savage, I saw a terrified face with eyes that were misty and squinted just enough to keep the tears from streaming down. Even through the mask I could see was plainly red from the adrenaline running through her system.

Ugh...That hurts to look at.

I scan from her shaking legs to equally as tremulous hands up to the shining barrel of her gun. I was disgusted. Not at the girl's shabby appearance, rather, I am upset what type of situation that could have possibly led to... This...

Robberies don't just happen simply for no reason. People usually do it with the intent to to obtain something they don't have... More than likely because they can't obtain what they need because something is inhibiting them from getting it legally. Unlike murderers, most robbers aren't inherently evil or even unhinged, just desperate, alone, scared, confused because they likely see jno other method of escape. This is one of those cases, it looks like.

"Give me your wallet." She threatened me again, her coarse disguised voice seemed to be trained.

"No." I riposte smugly before throwing a wide open haughty face drawing my chin back and smiling.

From my peripheral vision I could see the clerk mouthing some sort of profanity in shock.

"The fuck you say!? Do you even understand the position you are in!? I could kill you!" The girl suddenly got tense after I said that, her eyes bulged nearly from their eye sockets and her hands couldn't keep straight.

"Huuuh? You friggin' deaf? Didn't you know? No, means no, dumbass. You learn that at school yet?" I threw my arms down and pointed at her face, drawing a finger gun at her.

At my gesture the girl shoved the barrel into my chest and looked at me from below with a rage-filled glare. "What the hell..? Who the FUCK do you think you are!?" You see it but the shape of the mask contorted into her baring her non-visible teeth at me.

Huh, looks like I poked a sore spot.

"Dude! Do as he says! Today is not a good day to die!" The clerk timidly shouts out towards me, his eyes still trained on the girl.

"Why? She's just harmless kid..." I mutter nonchalantly as the barrel digs deeper into my sternum.

Ow ow ow! That's one of the spots where one of the fragments from the exploding car hit me earlier. I removed the shards but the wound still hasn't healed..!

"That kid has a gun!" The clerk shouts exasperated at me while the kid keeps attempting to eat into me with a hard, savage fire in her eyes.

"Sure, but that gun has its safety on." I reply to him and point at the small lever on the side of the pistol that was set on the safety lock.

It was true, the girl did leave the safety on which I had thankfully spotted when she forced me to turn around earlier. An amateur to the core it looks like. I guess my luck hasn't run dry yet.

"!?" Hearing this the girl gasps, and in her confusion I move in with a single motion turning the gun sideways to slip it from her trigger finger. In the next moment I jerk it back swiftly effictively taking control of the weapon. She looked absolutely flabbergasted as the weapon that had enabled her to be the dominating factor in this equation had been suddenly taken from her.

*whish!*

Not giving her time to think, I kick her in the stomach, knocking her down to the floor, then train the gun on her making sure to push down the safety lever on the gun.

*thwap!* *thud* *click!*

"Here are a few tips for next time. No. 1: Check if the safety is on or not." I fire the gun to the side of her head, aimed at some flour behind her so as to not let the bullet ricochet as I'm teaching this lesson.

*Bang!*

"Hie!?" The sound of the gun exploding next to her head wasn't a pleasant one. She started squeezing into the corner behind her trying to back away from me.

"No. 2: Never stand too close to the person you're aiming your gun at; they could retaliate." I press on the little button on the side of the pistol and the magazine slips out. I catch it in a free hand and pocket it. However, there is still that one bullet loaded in the chamber.

"And lastly..." I lower the gun from her face. "Please consider and evaluate your damn life choices before you pull stupid shit like this again you hear!? Stupid punk! People get hurt when idiots like you pull shit like this!" I harshly reprimand her and she just keeps staring me with wide, terrified eyes.

"Get the hell off the floor, don't run. Just stay here, don't even think about escaping." I order her, and it felt somewhat good now that the tables have been turned.

With a wordless stare, she clambers up from the floor terrified, still staring at the gun relaxed at my side.

"Ugh, look, I'm not gonna shoot you alright? Just stay put!"

A whimper is the response I get and I sigh.

I heard the clerk sigh too, letting his shoulders drop. "Damn bro, who the hell are you? Are you some kind of super secret wandering martial arts master or something!?"

"Nah, I'm just your normal everday average joe..." I let out one of my badass one liners, I always dreamed of using and frowned wistfully while staring at an abstract concept that I seemed to be fighting instead.

Damn, I probably look cool right now..! I couldn't help but giggle all giddily inside after showing that cool side of me. And I can't believe that actually worked! Holy shit I was about ready to white out right then and there..!

"Man, I don't know you but you're cool." The clerk beams at me before throwing a grimace at our little would-be robber. "So are we gonna arrest her or what?"

At the sound of this the girl winces, but I shake my head. "No, I've got this let me handle it. I've got something else planned for this punk."

Mysterious unknown reasons turned this girl to rob. But I'm sure chance brought her to the barrel of my gun too.

"Well sure man, do whatever, you caught her I guess... Your call, but what are you—" The man freezes again suddenly in a strangely familiar sensation.

*ding ding ding!*

"What?" I ask looking back at the trembling girl. "She's no threat now."

'Nuh-uh' is something that was conveyed to me by the clerk when he shook his head. I thought him too cautious about this, but I noticed that his eyes weren't trained on the girl.

*Click*

Sonovabitch.

I swung around behind me again and this time I saw a brawny looking man with a buzz-cut enter loudly touting a sub-machine gun and making no attempt or regard to even hide his sneer at us.

"ALRIGHT MOTHAFUCKAS, HEHEH, HANDS UP THIS IS A ROBBERY! GIMME ALL THAT SWEET DOSH! HAHAHAHA!" This new robber honked like a donkey himself.

I look back the first girl who was now cowering from the bombastic entrance of this loud guy and then back at the new arrival.

Eh... I don't feel sorry for this one...

I whip out the pistol that still had one bullet in the chamber from my side and shoot the new robber in the thigh.

*Bang!*

The robber falls down dropping his weapon and clutches his thigh, wriggling in great agony. "ARGGHHH, WHAT. THE. FUCK!? WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT!? WHY DO YOU HAVE A GUN!? WHY WOULD ANYONE CARRY A GUN INTO A CONVENIENCE STORE!? WHAT KIND OF SANE PERSON WOULD DO THAT!? ARGHGHHHGH!"

"Beats me." I shrug nonchalantly lowering my pistol. I approached the new guy and kicked the sub-machine gun away from him. "I'm sure people have their reasons."

*ding ding ding!*

Aww who the hell is it now!?

"Ass right there freezeholes!" I heard a familiar voice shout out and enter the store with a gun trained on just about everyone. "—I meant, freeze right there!
A-assholes! This is Achney Police!"

It was Zain the rookie police officer with his usual doe-eyed look responding to the crime scene.

Huh, you can always count on APD do be fashionably late... Didn't expect it to be the noob though.

"O-oh!" Zain suddenly backs up when he sees me and starts aiming his gun at me. "W-woah there buster! Put the gun down! You may not see my subordinates but I'll have you know they've got this building surrounded ready to bust in and save me at a moment's notice! It's true!"

Back-up? I look out the window but see absolutely nothing there except pedestrians walking on by, kept oblivious by the distracting demands of their own tasks. And he mentioned that they were his subordinates too? Who are you kidding Zain? More importantly though...

This idiot thinks that I'm the guy robbing this place!? Zain, its me buddy! The one who managed to stop the fiery freak terrorist from killing you and your
co-workers!? Ya know!? Earlier today! Indomitable! Remember!? Oh... Wait I don't think he saw me without my mask and costume... Crap.

"Hey there now!" The clerk suddenly shouted out loud grabbing the attention of the rookie cop. "Don't aim at my friend there, Mr. Caulfield!"

Huh? The clerk knows Zain?

"Oh!? Mr. Monroe are you okay!? And what do you mean by that?" Zain responds, his gun is still aimed at me.

And the clerk's name is Monroe? Huh... I was getting so used to calling him clerk that, I naturally thought that was his name...

"That guy is my friend! He saved me! We're cool!" The newly-minted Mr. Monroe came to my defense, moving around the corner to personally lower Zain's gun down.

I couldn't help but ask at this point. "You two know each other?" I ask plainly.

"Oh yeah." Zain quickly loses all hostility towards me in an instant and he smiles at me instead with frighteningly quick adaptability. "Mr. Monroe was my highschool gym teacher, and I also come visit this store often around this time to get a snack."

I look to the clerk and he nods back corroborating this story. "He used to be the absolute worst at basketball."

"And yeah— so I was on my way to get me some morning munchies after this morning's incident, when suddenly I hear two gunshots ring out from inside the store! Christ I thought, 'what was happening in there!?' And I was shocked at first, so was considering on whether I should just charge in or call back up... But after some hasty deliberation, in my heart I knew I couldn't just wait around to find out if Mr. Monroe was safe or not. So I charged in and saw you with a gun. So I naturally assumed... that... you know.." He trailed off, looked at my gun and shrugged.

"That I was the robber?" I finished his sentence for him.

"Hey you sound familiar..." Zain suddenly got suspicious at the sound of my voice only now and squinted at me.

"People say I have a very common voice."

"Ah... I see... Oh, wait, back to the case. Then what where those gun shots?" He asks looking at the other two in the room, particularly at the large, garish man who has a bullet hole through his thigh.

"Oh, I was the one who shot him." I admit flipping over my pistol and holding out the handle of it for Zain to take.

"You shot him!?"

"Well, he walked into the room with a submachine gun and then boldly declares 'ALRIGHT MOTHAFUCKAS, HANDS UP—', or thereabouts. Who would not be threatened by that? So I shot him, completely in self-defense I assure you." And he deserved it too for trying to rob a place with that amount of audacity!

Zain looks at the second robber with disdain then turns to me again taking the pistol. "...Yeah I can see that..."

"HEY!" The gaudy man shouts out in complaint. "THAT'S NO FAIR HOW YOU CAN SO EASILY ACCUSE ME OF ROBBERY, BASED SOLELY ON THE DAMNING FACT OF MY APPEARANCE! THAT'S DISCRIMINATION! I FEEL HURT AND JUDGED."

"O-oh!?" Zain reels. "I'm sorry for discriminating against you! I don't wanna do that! I took a course about that in college you know, so I'm all about that awareness! Ahem," Zain clears his throat then smiles at the robber politely ."Then I take it you weren't a robber here?"

"YES. I AM COMPLETELY INNOCENT."

"We've got video camera evidence." Monroe pipes up from the background pointing at a camera just right above the counter.

"SHITBALLS." The thug sighs dejectedly.

"Oh damn it! Don't try to lie to me! I hate liars!" Zain becomes infuriated and aims his gun at the criminal. "Alright you're coming down to the station with me bud!"

Seriously? Did you really think that would've worked? If you did... Then I really feel sorry for you..!

"Okay, okay boys, enough. All's well that ends well. Hup.." Monroe leans over and picks up the can of Madame Black from the floor I dropped and hands it over to me. "Here's your purchase sir."

"Thanks." I reply and then Monroe glances at the girl still in shock on the floor with a frown. Zain must've noticed this too, because he suddenly got curious.

"Who's this boy?" Zain keeps asks keeping focus on the thug who was rifing shamelessly through some commercial goods behind him presumably trying to find some bandages.

"Oh that's..." The clerk flashes me a look and then I nod.

"Uh... That's my sister." I raised my hand and Zain does a double-take.

"Your sister? Oh sorry young lady! I couldn't tell from this distance, my eye-sight is kind of bad... Didn't mean to offend you! I did a college workshop on sensitivity you know..."

"Wha-" The kid suddenly looks at me, then I grab her strongly by the wrist cutting her off before she digs her own grave.

"C'mon Mercedes..! Hngh..." I haul her up at the cost of what strength I had left. "We haven't finished our shopping. What do you want are you hungry? Do you feel like lunch? Or are you feeling sick? I'll buy whatever you need!" I try to sound natural but I come up instead as an awkward parent who doesn't know how to interact with their child.

"Uh..." Mercedes's (the girl whom I just christened Mercedes anyway) jaw slacks, slightly ajar at my offer.

The clerk raises a brow at me as if to say 'is this alright?' to which I reply with a silent stoic nod.

"Oh! My apologies guys!" The young cop suddenly interjects, "but you might have to stay at the crime scene a bit until my back-up arrives. We're gonna need to hold you in for questioning for all that... Sorry."

Nope, I don't have time for your shit Zain. I've got my future as a college student to preserve!

"Nah man, I uh... We have to go! I think that if we're late there might be... Civilian casualties! Hahah! Or something like that? Er... We volunteer as aides at St. Teresa's Shelter, you know the one just a few blocks over." I try to carefully weave the fragile spindles in my intricate web of bullshit.

"C-civilian casualties!? What!?" Zain yells aloud. "Oh your work must important! Fine then! I won't hold you, just visit APD headquarters when you're free so we can just confirm things... Hey maybe we can even bring you two for a police ride-along huh? Doesn't that sound fun?"

I look to my 'sister' who seems to have trouble grasping the situation, and then answer for her. "Yeah! Sure does! A ride-along sounds spiffy! Okay, sis hurry and tell me what you need already. We're busy... Remember... Civilian. Casualties..!" I whisper audibly enough to send a shiver up Zain's spine.

"You should hurry up and finish your shopping kiddo! I don't want this to hold you up from anything important!" The young cop gently urges Mercedes.

Zain you utter noob! You're too easy to manipulate. Muahahahah...!

Finally at the urgings of Zain, she points reluctantly and wordlessly at some general medicine in the health-products isle and I take her there, holding her wrist in my iron-clad grip. Mercedes picks out some everyday normal pills and tablets for fevers and colds and such, but some of the selections she makes surprises me. Contraceptives, a box of condoms, and some disposable pregnancy testers...

Huh...

I look at her, but she doesn't say anything, instead she moves just to grab what she needs all in one hand.

That's not for her is it?

"Done," she looks up at me, then I dump everything she had on the counter. I also grab an orange juice from a nearby rack for good measure and place it with the rest.

As Monroe starts ringing the items up, chuckles. "You do know, that is all free now huh? I'm just checking these things for myself?" He turns to Mercedes and then gives a firm look. "You've got a kind brother you know that, sweetie?" It was also thinly veiled as a warning.

I was going to raise an objection against his charity for my charitable efforts, but his unrelenting stare wouldn't let me. I allow a joyful sigh to escape for once and hand the plastic bag full of meds to Mercedes.

"AWWW SHEEEET." A rough broken voice called out. "I CAN'T GO WITH YA DOWN TO DA STATION, MR. BLUEMAN. I CAN'T MOVE YA SEE."

I look behind to see the idiot thug trying to reason with Zain.

"MY LEG IS ALL SHOT UP, YA NEED TO CARRY ME, GIMME A PIGGY BACK, C'MON. DUTY, SERVICE AND ALL THAT JAZZ."

"Oh no! You can't walk! That's no good! Don't worry, I'll carry you over to my cruiser!"

That being said twig-like Zain reaches over to attempt to pick up the bulky big man.

Zain, you're an idiot for thinking you can even lift that dude. But you are more idiot if you think that you're actually helping out! What the hell!

I hurried shout out. "Zain stop! Don't get too close-"

But its too late.

To everyone shock, as Zain lifted the man by the arms, the man quickly latched out Zain's waist, holding him in a tight vise before picking out the pistol that was on Zain's security harness. With movements quick as a flash—as if they had been thoroughly practiced from over a life time of training— the safety was unlocked, and in a single motion the gun was cocked and aimed at me.

And I wouldn't have minded all that much, but then he switched his sights after a split-second of consideration and gleefully sinister grin. The target was Mercedes. She didn't even notice that she's in the iron-sights of another gunman.

"SYKE! YOU JUST GOT PUNK'D NOW I'LL TAKE WHAT'S PRECIOUS TO YOU ASSHOLE!" He raved like a lunatic launching a smouldering glance my way.

Oh hell no!

I try to move—

*BANG!* *FWOOM* *SPLATTER!*

"Ah... Ahhhhh... Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!?"

Mercedes let out a blood-curdling scream, something that made my heart sink from the terrifying wail.

"BWAHAHAHAHAHAH! DOES THAT HURT ASSHOLE!? HAHAH— BWUH!?"

*THUD!* *CRACK!*

A sickening crack echoes off the interior of the J-mart, the crack of Zain's baton on the criminal's skull.

*FWUMP*

The bastard slumps to the floor unconscious and then Zains retrieves his piece, before turning to me.

"Oh my god! Are you okay Mr. Intangible!?" Zain looks at me with overwhelming concern written on his face.

"Kuhh.. Who the hell... Is Indomitable?" I ask clutching my left shoulder, the place where the bullet passed through in dull shock. "I'm Dmitri Weyland..!"

I turn to my shoulder an examine the area where I was hit. My Dad's grey coat was slowly being painted into a beautiful carmine color. The pain didn't sink in at all yet, because my adrenal glands are probably going into overdrive. I throw off my family heirloom off my shoulders in one swoop with my working right arm as dad had diligently taught me, and start unbuttoning my dress shirt.

"Oh sorry, I've must've made a mistake, you sounded just like someone I met earlier today." Zain face twists into one of regret, but he shakes it off and starts cuffing the rogue.

Oh now you cuff him!? You should've done that first..! Ugh... What the hell are they teaching you in OJTs!?

"Jesus, are you alright!?" Monroe runs around the counter and hurriedly rushes to my side. He looks at the wound and cringes. "Hohh shit, what are we gonna do about that? Do you feel faint!? Are you short of breath!?" He doesn't wait for my answer and runs over to the medicine isle, returning with some expensive looking white gauze bandages.

"Rgh... No, its okay, I'm alright..." I reply looking behind me. I see on the floor the shiny glint covered and surrounded in a rosy splatter of red. I'm not gonna die, "It just hit me in the shoulder see? It doesn't even hurt all that much," I show him the wound by lifting up my under shirt exposing my burnt body.

'Doesn't. Hurt.'

HNGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAARGHHHHHHH! HOLYFUCKINSHITBALLSMOTHERFUCKINCUNTGAHSHITCUNTFUCKBITCHASSBASTARDTAINTDAMNITALLTOFRIGGINHELLL!

"You sure it doesn't hurt? Cause it looks like it does."

"Nope, not at all." My face is as steel. In an effort to distract from my anguish, I look at Mercedes. "Are you okay, Sis?"

She's a mess. Her curly blonde hair was cascaded messily all over her shoulders and face. Her mask fell off and snot covered her disheveled mouth and nose, terror overtook the eyes which erratically move just about everywhere. ...She looks well enough I suppose.

The next few minutes were spent in silence as I let Monroe bind some gauze over my shoulder. I couldn't move it, it felt like he severed a motor nerve or something like that. Zain in the corner finally stepped out dragging the criminal behind him, and currently he's chatting with some of his colleagues who just arrived on scene.
Pedestrians who had been up until now had just been oblivious of the situation earlier were now peering inside the window with morbid interest, much to the agitation of the authorities.

"There." Monroe fixes his glasses then cuts the gauze tape from the roll. "That should do it. That feel okay? I'm confident in my bandage work but... You should go to a hospital after this, or you could just wait until the authorities take you there, I'm sure they'll be here soon. I'm worried about your arm..."

I would very much like that yes, but I'm afraid that's not gonna stop a certain professor of mine from murdering me once he arrives at the hospital as a visitor. I grimace at the thought and pull out my phone from my coat next to me. The time was about 12:04 right now, I'm already four minutes late damn it!

"Thanks for everything my man, but this is where I disappear now."

"Wait! You should really get help!"

"Sorry man civilian casualties!" I get up slowly and then throw my coat over my shoulders like a cape.

That said I would be the only civilian casualty... Heh...

"Come along now, Mercedes." I button up my shirt then grab Mercedes by the wrist again.

*ding ding ding!*

I'm forever gonna be scarred by that sound now.

I huff and step out into the blistering cold. The snowfall has gotten heavier than when I got off the train station now, reaching about two inches and still growing. I see the cops, and the flash of blue lights just out on the parking lot across the street. One officer holds up his arm to stop me, but Zain raises his hand up to him and explains something about me being important to save lives in the homeless shelter or something like that. The other officer looked just confused but they don't stop me anymore.

Thanking Zain in my head, I move out about a block towards my university campus with Mercedes in tow. The walk was silent as it was cold, sort of like the weather right now, and I wasn't interested in any small talk at the moment. The sound of snow crunching underfoot and the numbing spiky touch of the frigid air made it also hard for me to think about anything other than just finding a nice cozy spot to just collapse on. What I wouldn't give for a few more minutes lounging lazily back in my comfy bed... Or even the couch..!


About two blocks away from the J-Mart I arrive at a certain building, rough worn brick structure. that I've come to recognize and I duck into its side. I saunter into the little alleyway hidden away from prying the of society and turn towards my little truant.

"Got anything to say to me kiddo?" I let go of her arm and cast a tired look at her.

"...Thanks..." She mutters quietly, but I shake my head.

"Hell no." I click my tongue. "I want an apology."

"...Why did you save me..?" The girl ignored me and looked away.

"Oh no, don't misunderstand. I didn't save your sorry ass. I just didn't let them arrest you because I know a little jail time isn't enough to stop fools like you from doing something stupid like that again." I speak honestly.

The girl quietly stared up at me. "..."

"Listen up kid." I say exasperated and glance at the heavy plastic bag at her side. "You've got some problems. I don't want to hypothesize, nor do I care enough to want to know them, but I'll listen anyway..." I point at her. "But first I have something I want to say and that is: you shouldn't go around threatening to hurt other people just because you need something! What if you had hurt them, huh? What if you had— and god forbid this doesn't happen anytime soon—shot someone? Would you be able to face that? Why didn't you ask anyone first!...?

"I did!" The girl abruptly explodes on me, wet sparkling tears falling down her cheeks. "But no one cares! People are just so damn apathetic its hard to laugh at!"

"That was an obviously lie, you fool. People do care! I'm not even sure you're looking in the right places! Don't thrust your disgusting overgeneralization on other people like that simply because it protects you from the fact that you're actually the lowest common denominator in your life and not them." I snap back calmly.

"Ngh!? W-what the hell would you know!?"

Eh? What would I know huh? Good question. I couldn't help but laugh a little bit at that question. What indeed...

"Try me." I blurt out in a sudden upwelling of rage that I failed repress.

"!" Mercedes takes a step back from my adamantine tone, but then starts balling up her fists. "I tried..!" The vagrant screamed at me. "I really did..! —Do you really think I wouldn't tell anyone about it!? I tried to! At first I tried to tell my friends about my issues— the ones that I thought I could tell anything to in the world to and they'd still be okay with me for who I was... The ones whom I had always long trusted and swore them my own family! The ones I believed to be lifting me up..! But when I came clean they all became the ones that just looked at me as if I were some poor animal; I was pitied! Instead of help I was stared at with these half-hollow eyes of despair and uncertainty! It was clear they didn't wanna get any deeper into my issues so they started ignoring it. As if I wasn't there; as if I didn't exist! Some friends I thought I had!"

Two bloodshot moist balls of fury shot me the fiercest glare a child has ever shown me. Even angrier than when she had me at gun point earlier.

"That didn't work, so I tried to let my teachers know what was going on. They said they'd get to it, so I waited. I waited and waited... But in the end they didn't do a damn thing..! Its been two months since I tried to let them know and still they had the gall to forget about it when I came to remind them...! So I brought it up to the principal instead, but I don't even think he was listening at all. So much for teachers caring! Even when I became was very desperate I went to the cops get some help, but even they said the were very busy..! What the hell was that... They're the ones supposed to help us when we're in trouble am I wrong? Why does no one care!? Why does no one wanna help us!? Tell me, why does the world seem out get us when we never did anything wrong!?"

At this point Mercedes had grabbed tightly into my shirt and pleaded with me, as if I were supposed to do something.

"Why does everyone reject us, hate us? Explain to me why Sis had to whore herself out every night to cheap drunken idiots instead of going to college and living her dream!? Why we get stuck in this endless debt of ours! Why did our parents have to die like that..!? How can that bastard get away with murder..!? Why do I have to suffer like this..!? Why is this world so terrible!? Why? Why! Why!? WHY!? WHY!?"

During this whole lengthy dialogue had gradually sunk to her knees and started weeping profusely, still gripping my shirt tightly.

"Please... Tell me... " She asked, looking at me now with her dull tired eyes devoid of any youthful sparkle. "What should I do..? How can I fix my life..? I just want it to go all away..!"

"I dunno," I let out a breath of warm steam then scratch the back of my head. "I only said I'd lend an ear not solve your problems..."

"...What..?" The urchin gasped softly at me her face contorting into one of madness and let me go. "...Hahah... Hahahahah..! How the hell can people like you get up in the morning and feel proud of yourself? How can you talk so big when you don't know how to even handle it !? I thought you were someone who would get it but I feel sorry for myself for even trying... How could I even think that you were gonna help me? Heheh... Heheheheh..." Her tears stopped and she started curling up into a tight little ball right in front of me. "And just when I thought I found someone who could finally save me from this hell..! Ahh... You were right, I was a fool... Why do I always expect much of people? Is it me? Am I actually the wrong one here?"

"Sorry kid, I really don't have the time, skill, effort or energy to help somebody with your problems. I'm just too burned out for this crap... I can't help you, I'm just not the right person for this..." I cast a glance over to the back door of the building next to me. I could already hear those atypical nostalgic footsteps shuffling towards the the entrance. "But I know someone is."

*creak...*

The heavy elaborate rosewood door opens to my side and out pops out the front half of a short beautiful lady. As she peeks out the door, she pushes up her glasses and gently parts her mousy hair to the side casting me a curious look.

"Dmitri?" Jocelyn squeaks out and I wave my working arm. "What are you doing back here?" She shuffles out of the doorway and notices the girl on the floor. She lets out a knowing sigh, then flashes me a fond grin. "Again 'Mitri? Heehee! Kids really take a shine to you, you know?"

"I'm really sorry about this, Joy... I know I rely on you too much but this one last one, I swear! The last one ever, honest! Take care of her for me?" I ask awkwardly sheepishly rubbing the back of my head. "Cause I have to go salvage my college credits now."

"Of course, it would be my pleasure!" She nods in reply and my shoulders drop in relief. She then walks over to Mercedes, standing behind her. Without any other words— first before anything else, she removes her beige cardigan and wraps it around my stray's shoulders. "Hello young lady. It's quite cold there isn't it? My name is Jocelyn! I'm an aide here at St. Teresa's Shelter for Women and Children... If it's okay for me to ask, how are you feeling today?"

Suddenly noticing Jocelyn in front of her, Mercedes casts me a glare and frowns. "A shelter...? Hah... I see. You really are looking down on me." She lets out a pained whine.

"You idiot!" I quickly squat down to her level and bring a quick karate chop down upon the top of her head.

*plonk!*

"Hngh..!" The girl reels from the blow.

"Dmitri!?" Joy looks at me in horror, but I bring my hand up to my mouth and tell her to zip it.

I turn back to Mercedes who was now rubbing her head and I look her directly in the eyes.

"To answer your question, Mercedes. Doesn't a man have to face a person who's down to help them up? I can't lend you a hand if I'm looking away."

"!" The girl's eyes grow wide at my statement.

Picking up the plastic bag full of goods that she dropped during her speech, I pushed it back in her hands.

"Listen up, brat. I need to tell you a little something." I hold her shoulder firmly, "I know that you might not like what I'm offering you, but from what I'm getting from your story, you shouldn't be picky with these things. In order to bring about change in your life you need to take initiative. You have to be willing to help yourself out of this mess. You can't just let things slide or wait for someone to come around and save you. That's not how it works. You're a damsel in distress but that doesn't mean that some knight in shining armor will appear. No such convenient things exist, except in the flights and fancies of what's seen on the media. Life is cruel, harsh and unfair. But that makes it all the more beautiful when you notice that most beautiful flowers tend to bloom only after long winters. So here's my advice to you..."

I use both hands and grab her by the cheeks, lifting her face up. "Help yourself. I'm right here now, I'll show you the first step to take."

"Ah..!" Mercedes squeezes a pathetic squeak out of throat and starts tearing up. Her eyes redden and she lets out another squeak. It appears that her heart got stuck in her throat. Hot dollops of moisture started running down my hands as torrents of pent up grief, frustration and sadness pour out of her little bright green eyes. She started shaking profusely for a moment, ducking down from my grasp to hide her face, before ultimately collapsing into my chest.

Ow ow ow ow ow! I'm still sore there! Cut it out..! Argh..! Damn it, don't bury yourself in there! And stop blowing your nose all over my shirt! Ugh, this isn't good I'm getting dirty... Oh man, this day is just getting better and better huh? —Yet still... I have to admit. I look down at my chest and pat the convulsing girl's head. This is easier on the eyes than the sight of that cold, gun-toting, miscreant isn't it?

I let her wail in my chest for awhile and occasionally bringing up my hand to wipe her nose with my dress shirt. Joy who had been watching laughs a bit watching over us with a gentle smile. I return her a depressed glare and I shrug my shoulders.

"Stay here for a while," I continue my speech. "it doesn't have to be overnight. You can return home after just an hour or so. Just tell Joy here about your problems, and maybe come back for a few days after that. Whatever you do, just keep coming here for about a week, whenever you're free." I rub Mercedes on the back then break my grip from her to allow myself to stand up.

I reach into my inner coat pocket and produce a handkerchief, without a word I hand it to her then gesture to Jocelyn. "She's in your care now, Joy."

"Of course Dmitri but..." My friend pauses for a moment.

"Yes?"

"What's that on your shoulder..?" She points at the bullet hole in my coat, the one caked with a rim of my freezing blood.

"Oh that I uh..." I stammer caught unawares.

Crap! Really Joy? How perceptive..! If she finds out that what happened, she won't let me hear the end of it damn it! I look at my phone. '12:18' lights up on the bright LED display. Eighteen minutes late already... I don't have time to deal with an unnecessary lecture. Come on me, think of something...! Use your brilliant mind for something useful!

"See..." I start off and point at my injured shoulder. "The infamous MURDER DOCTOR and his DIABOLICAL ORGANIZATION caught wind of my exploits and sent an assassin to uh... End me... If you catch my drift! Not to worry however for I swiftly dispatched my attackers! It just one of them got a lucky hit on me you see. Er, it's just another tale in the life of your friendly neighborhood college student! Hahaha! Ah... That reminds me I should go talk to Secretary Gilliam about this incident. Ahem..!" I deepen my voice and call upon the strongest powers of conjuring from the bowels of my ass and quickly spin my tail.

*grip!* *squeeeze!*

Gah!?

"Owowowow! Joy let go of my ear! Damn it that hurts! Stahp..!" I could feel the sharp pain of her fingers digging into my lobe.

She saw right through me! How perceptive! As expected my surly arch-nemesis! Ow...

"You somehow thought that you'd distract me with another one of your delusions? Seriously, Dmitri? Did you really think that would've worked? If you did... Then I really feel sorry for you..! How did you get shot!? Why are you trying to hide it?" The small lady savagely pulls me down to her level by my ear.

"You're gonna tear it off, woman!"

"Hrmm... Was it from..." Joy casts a curious side-long glance at Mercedes before turning to me.

"N-no..! She wasn't the one that shot me. If she even threatened me with a gun, I would've brought her to the nearest police offer I swear!" I quickly move to clear up the insinuation.

"Ahah! So you were shot!"

—!? That was a feint!? You crafty witch!

"Dmitri, we have to get you inside! I have first aid tools in the atrium. On a scale of one to ten how are you..." Jocelyn runs her mouth immediately to no end throwing question, after question at me.

I gotta find a way to break out of this... Woman, don't think you've witnessed the nebulous depths of the esoteric art passed down by generations of beleaguered men all around the world, the one that was passed down to me by my master ten years ago at the tender of 11..! I speak not lightly of the one and sacred art: Bullshido!

"Oh my god! Is that an infant in a stroller being left alone, crying out for succor!?" I yell out with all my wit and point at the exit of the alleyway behind Joy.

"What? Do you mean yourself? Dmitri, you really need to stop being an idiot and grow up. If this keeps up, then I'll be the only girl that will ever understand you, and I find that sad. I don't feel like taking care you for the rest of my life!" Joy throws me a withering stare and hands me back the hook and sinker of that line, along with what remains of my feelings.

Hngghh... That hurts more than that should've... Unghh... Really does... But the sacred art of Bullshido doesn't allow half-baked convictions! Again!

"No, I'm serious its crying out for help but being drowned out by a freak raging blizzard!"

"..."

"Oh my god! Its starting to roll down the street because of the slight incline on the curb!"

"..."

"Oh nooo! It looks like the baby is— eh!? Wait is that a car!?"

"A car!? Oh my god! That's terrible!" Joy releases me from her death grip for a mere second to turn around but realizes her mistake a second too late.

"—Nuh!?"

"Muahahahahah! I am free!" I cackle manically and deftly dodge a quick reprisal of an attempt to pin me down. "Foolish mouse girl, you have no control over I!"

"Who the heck are you calling a mouse girl!?" Mouse girl fixes her tilted glasses and fumes. "And stop moving! Argh! Why do you never listen to me!?"

"I call you 'mouse girl' because you remind me of a small furry rodent! Would you rather me dub you 'rat woman' instead!? Heheheh! You entertain me so... Jocelyn Black..! Never change! Hahahahah!" I run out of the alley, wind lifting up my coat-cape as I make my great escape. "Take care of Mercedes for me..!" I turn to the bewildered former-robber and wink.

"W-wait Mitri! You need treatment! Don't be so reckless! Hey!" Jocelyn attempts to run after me but is quickly outpaced by my blinding speed.

Sadly no amount of treatment is gonna save me from the wrath of the Professor when he's pissed... I can deal with these injuries for now. I just need to make it to that damn conference!

Not stopping from my momentum, I breeze out the side of the building and keep my sprint towards Cromwell University which I can just a few blocks away. Looks like the steroid has some kick left... Okay! This is good! Nothing will stop me now..!


...Fate was a merciless step-sister. A cruel weight designed for the sole purpose of crushing all hope that shined the cracks of my gray prison cell that was my life... I once thought this destiny of mine was something that I had to fight just to get through the day. And to be honest, on some level. I still think that's still true.

"—That was an obviously lie, you fool. People do care! I'm not sure if you're even looking in the right places!"

I'm not looking in the right places? What an arrogant person to say such a thing! He doesn't know me. He doesn't know my life. Yet... At some level I agreed... I didn't try hard enough to look at the right places. I recall the faces of pity that surrounded me, and my own arm sweeping them away, as if to ward of darkness with fire. I remember the thought I had, that they didn't deserve to help me. Those people like that, the ones who would always look down on me because of the truth... I always hated that. The slackjawed response, the slightly raised concerned brow, a face that seemed bothered. Was I just a bother to you all? A problem to be resolved? I couldn't accept it. So...

"W-what the hell would you know!?"

"Try me."

A sudden quick response. One full of fury, anguish, sorrow and regret. Tired eyes that seemed to ache with despair I couldn't even know, the conviction that dwelt within hollowness. I was relieved when I saw that face. I finally felt that someone had finally come, the one who could at last understand me; the bird of feather that I was searching for. Because what could turn someone like that to make such a beautiful and sorrowful expression? It was a sight I'll remember to the end of my days: steel; the color and quality of that gaze was abundant.

I thought it was just a foolish middle-school crush at first, but looking back from now, I was foolish to think so. It was just the feeling of familiarity; the feeling of knowing that you're not the only one alone in the world with problems, was what made the sight so alluring. Its a silent acknowledgement that tells you that you're not crazy or delusional. A comforting thought that brought me peace of mind, if only for that fleeting moment.

That was the starting point— if I recall correctly— of the events in the coming weeks that changed my life radically. For better or for worse. That was when I had truly begun to think that the concept of heroes— no, just good people had truly existed.


"Mercedes was it?" The lady offered me up something warm. Her voice was lovely, this was that man's friend right? I look up to see some what appeared to be tea or coffee in front of me.

"...Thank you." I cough hoarsely from under my breath, the yelling from earlier had my my voice crack badly, so much that it hurt. "Umm..."

This place is... Very homely —not in a sense that applies to me, but that would be the best description. Fine wooden floors and walls, a natural warm colored light that shone clearly through out the room scented with what I could only guess was vanilla and bread, and striking stained glass windows. I heard the cry of some infants from down on the second floor from up here, in this woman's office, which was on the third floor. It was cleaner than I thought.

"Yes?" Joceyln squeaks attentively as I look around. "You don't need to say anything right now, please just enjoy that and let me know if you're feeling better."

"No, I uh..." I shake my head to clear my mind before speaking. "I'm sorry but that isn't my name... It's... Ellie, my sister calls me that anyway... That was just something that man made up for me."

"Oh? Then I'm so sorry, Ellie! I just heard him call you that. I should've known better, that guy— Dmitri— tends to give nicknames to people.. He's so immature! And I was thinking to myself that it was good he finally quieted down ever since last year... Well at least its nice to know that some things stay constant... Ahh man...I sometimes hate myself for being a little too good at handling kids... Hehe."

"Dmitri..." I clutch the bag at my side tightly.

"Oh did he give you that?" She pointed a little finger at the plastic bag.

"..."

Ah... Should I tell her how I got this..? But what if she looks at me weird? How should I explain about this? What should I say about—

"Medicine huh? My how responsible of you." A felt a sudden warm smile on me. "You said you have a sister right? Are you alright telling me about her?" The woman called Joy beamed at me. Her smile felt familiar somehow, it was nostalgic. Ah... That's right... Sis, you used to smile like that often huh?

...Is this really alright? Alright for me I mean... Can I take this? I could still feel the freezing sensation of gun-metal wrapped in my fingers. I shivered a bit just recalling that. Do I deserve the right to even chat with this nice woman before me?

"—In order to bring about change in your life you need to take initiative." The words reverberated in my head.

Change... That sounds nice.

"Umm... I... Alright I guess..."

VOL. 1, CHAPTER 2: JUST ANOTHER DAY -END-