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They meet in a dark alleyway, because of course that is where a stone-drunk, p*ssy-feeling woman in her early twenties meets the best kind of people. She stands there in the dank, gloomy darkness, staring down at the three unconscious bodies scattered at her feet, and marvels at her own stupidity. It’s a wonder she isn’t dead yet. But, of course, that’s the point. She would be dead—or, if not, then at least severely screwed, literally—if it wasn’t for him.
He’s hopped on top of the Dumpster in his leather jacket and dark jeans, and now he’s crouching there, smoking a cigarette from behind those shades that obscure his face so well. She frowns up at him. “Shades and a leather jacket? Isn’t that a bit overdone?”
He smirks and shakes the ash from his fingers. “Stumbling into a dark alleyway drunk and being assaulted by three thugs, only to be saved in the nick of time by a mysterious stranger? Isn’t that a bit overdone?”
She rolls her eyes. “You’re a clever one, aren’t you.”
“About as much as you are.”
She sighs and reaches out a hand to steady herself against the sticky brick alley wall. “Drunk people do not make the best decisions, okay.”
He just laughs.
She squints at him. He looks like the typical, motorcycle-riding hot secret agent guy, the kind that would star in the suit-porn fantasies of high school girls everywhere. She’s never had a thing for leather jackets—the only people she knows that wears them are pretentious d**ches—but it works on him. She regards him suspiciously. What kind of super hot secret agent wanders around the city at midnight saving p*ss-drunk women from being attacked in alleyways? She sniffs.
“Who are you, anyways?” she asks. “And what are you out doing rescuing people in the middle of the night?”
He takes another long drag from his cigarette and she wants to roll her eyes at what a stereotypical “cool guy” move it is. But again, it works on him. The smoke curls from the corner of his mouth and drifts off into the smoggy night sky.
“It’s my job.”
“Your job?” she repeats incredulously.
“And what would that job be?”
“Take a guess.”
She raises an eyebrow. “Uh, I don’t know. An accountant?”
This, at least, gets a laugh out of him. “Close.” He gestures lazily to the three thugs that he had beaten up mere moments earlier. “There’s a clue. Three, actually.”
She stares at the bodies. “Uh…cop?”
“So close, and yet, so far.”
“Professional beater-up of thugs?”
He grins and lifts the cigarette back to his lips. “Pretty much.”
The other eyebrow goes up as well. “Okay then. Got a name?”
He laughs and lolls his head to the side to face her, and even with the shades on, she gets the feeling that he’s checking her out. “I’m a hero, love. And we don’t give out our names.”
“You gonna try to jump me, too? Because you’re sure as h*ll as crazy as these thugs over here.” She nudges one of them disgustedly with the toe of her boot.
He tosses a smile at her, one that shows teeth. “Don’t worry, love. I’m not that kind of hero.”
She has to admit that he’s fascinating, even if he is insane. The best ones always are, anyways. “And what kind are those?”
He breathes a plume of smoke into the alleyway. “The comic-book kind,” he replies drolly. “The kind that wears pretty little tights and runs around with a cape on. The neighborhood-friendly sort, who rescues himself a pretty little thing and makes her his girlfriend, to wait lovingly for him at home. The kind with a best friend. The kind that’s emotionally stable.” He flashes her that disconcerting grin again. “I’ll tell you a secret, love: That kind doesn’t exist.”
“So are all heroes bitter, leather jacket afficiandos like you?” she asks, mockingly.
He doesn’t reply, just laughs.
She makes the decision that he’s probably not going to mug her and walks over to join him on the Dumpster. He doesn’t react, just sits there, smoking his god d*mn cigarette, his face inscrutable behind his shades. She surveys him loftily, or at least as loftily as she can when she’s drunk as h*ll. “So. You’re a superhero.”
“No, just flattered.” She smiles. “Can I see a trick?”
He chuckles. “I’m not a magician.”
“Something to prove that you really are a superhero,” she says. “Not just some delusional half-wit.”
He smirks around his cigarette. “Superheroes don’t prove that they’re superheroes, love. Besides, I never said anything about being super.”
“No special powers?”
He paused. “Eh. Not the kind that you’re thinking of.”
“Able to jump buildings in a single bound?”
“So you really are delusional.”
He softly clicks his tongue. “Not quite, love. You’re still alive, aren’t you?”
She pauses, pondering this. “Yeah. I guess I am.”
They sit there in silence for a moment.
“Have you at least got killer reflexes?”
The corner of his mouth quirks upwards. “Oh, yeah.”
She sighs. “Good.”
She can tell that he’s amused. “You’re pretty drunk, aren’t you?”
She shrugs, giving him a lopsided smile. “Maybe I’m the sober one, and you’re the drunk one. Did you ever think of that?”
He chuckles dryly. “All the time, love.” He scrutinizes his cigarette for a moment before flicking it off into the damp, stuffy darkness of the alley. “Alright. Let’s get you home.”
She snorts. “Like h*ll. I’m not telling you where I live.”
He laughs, his tone appreciative. “Smart girl.” He offers his hand. “No need, though; just think of your place.”
She shoots him the most skeptical look that she can manage while drunk out of her mind. “What are you going to do? Read my mind like Charles Xavier?”
“So I see that you’re actually fairly familiar with Marvel lore.” He quirks an eyebrow. “Come on.”
It’s mostly because she’s drunk, she reasons, and she would never do this if she was sober, but she puts her hand in his and looks up at him expectantly. He grins at her and reminds her, “You’ve got to think of your house, love.” She sighs dramatically but does as she’s told, picturing her tiny, cozy book-filled apartment by the park near Fifth Avenue. And then all of a sudden the dank alleyway and the unconscious thugs are gone, and they’re sitting together on the stoop in front of her door.
She quickly snatches her hand away and exhales shakily, feeling suddenly much more sober than before. “Oh, god,” she murmurs, sucking in a shallow breath. “Oh my god.”
He stands and helps her onto her feet, his voice calm, almost soothing. “Breathe,” he instructs her. “You got keys?”
She mutters something unintelligible and nervously flaps her hand.
“Okay then.” He walks up to her door and lays his palm flat against the painted wood. With a soft click, the door swings open.
She looks like she’s about to faint. “And you can break into people’s homes…“
He just laughs and steers her into the open doorway. “Get some rest, love.” He smirks at her. “You look terrible.”
She leans tiredly against the door frame. “So. You’re, uh, a superhero. You’re really a--an actual superhero.” She lets out her breath, staring up at him. “I feel like I should crack some sorta cheesy line before we go our separate ways.”
“Cheesy lines are much appreciated, but never necessary.”
She ignores him and presses her hand over her heart, exclaiming breathily, “Will I ever see you again?”
A chuckle breaks forth from his lips, and he leans in so close that she can finally make out the shape of his eyes through his shades. “I don’t know,” he whispers lowly into her ear. “It’s too dangerous.”
She breathes out quietly. “Well then. Thank you for saving me.”
He straightens, smirking. “It was my pleasure, miss.”
She smiles. “Bye, stranger.”
She’s not quite sure how, but she can tell when he winks at her. ”Till the next time.”
She watches as he turns and walks off, melting into the night.