***Part One***
Word Count: 6,344

No one knew where she was tonight. Some friends of hers were meeting at a bar on Rush Street downtown. She'd said she might show up, and she supposed she still might. She wasn't planning on it, though. There was something she needed to do.

Why did she have to be twenty-one in order to do it?

She wasn't sure really. She'd thought on him over the years. She'd wondered how she could fully express to him what his kindness meant to her that night. She knew now that he wasn't really Thor. (She'd fantasized of him as Thor more times than she could count throughout the years, a very real face (and body) to go with the fictional character she loved.) Still, though, he'd been kind, saved their collective hides. If he hadn't been willing to shave the five dollars they were missing off their bill they would have had to call someone's parents. They all would have been in trouble.

She'd driven by the garage a few times over the years to reassure herself that he was still there. She felt better somehow knowing that he was. He worked late. The night they'd met him wasn't the only night he was at his garage long past the usual quitting hours of most people.

The bar just down the street seemed like a perfect place for him to go to unwind or grab a quick cold one on a break. She didn't know for certain he went there so she was taking a huge risk going in there by herself.

No riskier than climbing out her dad's building thirteen years ago had been, though. Her standards bar was set a little higher than most after that night. She'd survived. They'd survived. Her babysitter that night, Chris, had gotten them through it. She'd even gotten married out of the deal. Well, not right away, but eventually she and Joe found one another. The rest, as they say, was history. It was Chris and Joe meeting up again years later that gave Sara the idea to seek out her hero from the night. Not for the same purposes Chris sought Joe out, but the idea had been planted.

She entered the bar, scanning the smoky room for a minute before approaching the bar. She ordered herself a beer. It wasn't the type of place to order her usual Amaretto sour in. This was a working man's bar, some place her father would never be caught dead in. (And would probably read Sara the riot act if he knew she'd set foot in a place like this.) She doubted there wasn't anyone here who wasn't, as her mother called them, a blue-collar worker. Sara aside, obviously.

She sat on a stool, leaving as much space between her and the next guy on either side of her as she could. It wasn't that crowded in here so it wasn't difficult to do. She felt more than one pair of eyes on her as she took a sip of the foamy beer the bartender set in front of her. She wasn't fond of beer, but in high school and her first year or two of college it was all she'd had access to. Eventually, she'd become friends with people who were already legal and she'd been introduced to things like her now favorite Amaretto sour.

She scanned the dimly lit bar, eyes widening in recognition at the sight of him at a booth toward the back of the bar. He seemed to be alone. There was only one beer at the table. He didn't look very happy, but then he hadn't been very happy that night either. It was a tough life, mechanic by day and superhero by night. She'd even imagined once or twice what kind of car he had fixed up for his own personal use to aid him in fighting crime.

She paid the bartender before taking another sip of the beer, hoping to get the courage to approach him. That was why she'd come here, but now that she was here and he was as well it seemed she was running a little short on courage.

"You lost, sweetheart?" The guy seated to her left asked.

"No," she replied simply. She'd expected to be talked to and come on to.

"You sure?" He eyed her lecherously as she took another sip of her beer.

"Positive," she said. She glanced at him, but refused to meet his gaze square on. There was a game on the TV above the bar and she tried to focus her attention on that.

The beer gone she debated about what to do from here. He was here. She really hadn't thought much beyond seeing if he was here when she pictured coming here. She headed to the back where the restrooms were. She looked at him on the way and he looked back. No recognition apparent, she expected that. (Was in fact counting on it.) He liked what he saw, though, that much was evident. It could have had something to do with the fact she was the only woman in the bar that wasn't with someone else. She didn't think so, though.

She stared into the mirror for a few minutes, wondering if she shouldn't just leave. No one would know she'd chickened out.

Except her.

She'd know.

Her spot at the bar was still open. She could buy another beer, listen to the guy to her left continue to hit on her. That wasn't appealing at all.

She slid into the seat across from his before she could talk herself out of it.

"You lost?" he said without looking up from the newspaper he was reading.

"Why does everyone keep asking me that?"

"We don't get many of your type here."

"My type?"

"Yeah, your type," he said.

"I don't think I'm a type. I'm just me."

He glanced at her over the top of the newspaper, regarding her intensely. He'd aged a bit she noticed now. He was probably mid-twenties that night so he had to be closer to forty than thirty now. His hair was still a little longer. His eyes were suspicious. Rightfully so, probably.

She noticed, too, even seated as he was her recollection of him being large wasn't wrong. He was a big guy. She'd always assumed it was her eight-year-old mind making him out to be larger than life. Glancing at the hands holding the newspaper, she imagined he had absolutely no problem holding a football.

"Your daddy know you're slumming?"

"I was thirsty, I stopped for a drink. Is that a crime?"

"I suppose it's not a crime, but it could be dangerous."

"Are you going to hurt me?"

He glanced at the others in the bar, taking a pull off his bottled beer. She'd chosen a draft earlier. She watched as he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.

"Me?"

"Well, I am talking to you, so yes. You."

"Donnie's younger than me."

"Donnie?"

"The one you were talking to at the bar," he said, tilting his beer bottle in that direction.

She scrunched her nose a little, glancing at the bar – and Donnie.

"I wasn't talking to him. He talked to me, I answered."

He slid his Cubs cap off, running his fingers through his hair before putting the cap back on. He signaled the bartender and Sara assumed that their conversation – and her time with him – was just about over. Evidently she wasn't a very good seductress. As if she'd tried before now. How hard could it be? Little did she know.

"What did he say?"

"Nothing really."

"He didn't ask your sign?"

She laughed. "No."

"If you come here often?"

"No, I don't think he'd need to ask that one."

She was ready to get up from the table, leave and rethink her plan. This wasn't working at all.

Or so she thought.

The bartender bringing another bottle of beer for him and setting another mug of beer in front of her made her rethink that.

"Thanks, Bill," he said.

He took a pull off his beer, eyes watching her intensely. The newspaper he'd been holding was folded up and pushed toward the wall now. She supposed that was a good indication that she had his attention.

"So, what are you doing here?"

She rolled her eyes, taking a sip of her beer.

"I told you. I was thirsty."

"Where are you from?"

"Oak Park."

"No bars more your style between there and here?"

She shrugged. "I'm at U Chicago."

"Of course you are."

"What's that mean?"

"You majoring in Sociology or something that you need to come to a place like this and see how the common folk unwind after their hard days?"

She didn't answer him, instead taking a sip of his beer and watching the game for a little bit again.

"You a Cubs fan?" he asked.

"Sure," she said. "I haven't been to a game yet this year and I think the closest they're ever going to get to a World Series was when they had Rick Sutcliffe, but I like them."

"Wow, you know Rick Sutcliffe?"

"I know of him, sure. I was too young to see him play."

"I'm impressed."

"I have an older brother," she said.

"How much older?"

"Seven years."

"I suppose he would've remembered Sutcliffe then."

"Yup," she said. "I'm sure I saw him play, but I just don't remember."

"So you like baseball. Anything else?"

"Sure, lots of things. And I'm not majoring in Sociology."

"What are you majoring in?"

"Psychology and Social Work."

"Hmm," he said, taking a sip of his beer. "You going to try and psychoanalyze me?"

She laughed softly. She had so many times over the years, but he wouldn't know that. Why had he been so mean at first that night? Clearly, they were in a bind and could have gotten him the last five dollars the next day if he needed it.

"You looking to take a walk on the wild side before graduating and settling down with Mr. Wonderful for a life of dullness and two point five kids? Getting back at a cheating boyfriend? Daddy cut you off from the trust fund?"

"No, none of those things."

She ran a fingertip along the rim of her mug as he asked his questions. None of those things were true, but she supposed she could understand why he'd think that. She clearly didn't belong here. She took a deep breath, deciding it was do or die time, and reached for him. She ran a fingertip over the back of his hand. He flinched a little, but didn't pull away or anything.

"I didn't come here to get drunk."

"No?"

"No, not at all. I don't have staying very long on my mind either."

"You have somewhere to be?"

He was watching her finger pretty intensely. She smiled a little at that. She hadn't gotten the impression he was a very touchy feely guy the night they met. He was pretty scary, really, until the end there.

"I don't know. Do I?" she asked.

"Come again?"

She lifted her hand away and took a sip of her beer.

"I know you heard me."

"You want to leave with me?"

"Is that a problem?"

"Not a problem necessarily, no. I think someone like Donnie over there would probably be better."

"Better? Are you saying that you're bad?"

He sputtered for a second.

"Only in the good kind of way, honey. Women your age."

"Don't worry about women my age. Well, any except me."

"What is your name?"

She gave a soft laugh. "Sara."

"Well, Sara, I'm Erik."

"Hi Erik," she said. She hadn't known his first name until now.

He took another pull, making a fist with the hand she'd touched.

"Want to get out of here?"

"I thought you'd never ask."

He left money on the table to cover both of their beers. He stood once she had. She was maybe on the short side of average height at five foot four inches. She'd never met anyone who was so much taller than her, though.

She felt eyes on her again. The guy he'd called Donnie was one set. There were others, though, all probably wondering why she was leaving with him of all the guys there. She wasn't sure he would have been her choice under normal circumstances. He didn't fall under what she'd consider her type.

"Don't leave with women often?" she asked once they were outside.

"I don't really go out of my way to talk to women."

"Oh."

"Not many sit down and talk to me either."

She smiled a little at that.

"Their loss," she said.

"Yes, because I'm such a catch."

"You haven't done anything to make me think that you're not, Erik."

He pinned her up against a pickup truck they'd stopped in front of. He settled his hands against the frame around the window as he leaned down to kiss her. She groaned, startled a little. How many times during junior high and even high school had she dreamt about this? Kissing him. Being kissed by him so thoroughly that her toes curled.

She reached up, hands skimming along his abdomen and chest to his shoulders. God, he felt good. Toned and hard and she suspected it was all from hard work and manual labor. She doubted he'd been inside a Bally's in his life. He hadn't had to be a member of any gym to look the way he did.

She wasn't sure how long he stood there kissing her. It seemed like a long time, though it was probably only a few minutes. His hand to her right slid down along the window of his pickup truck. His other hand did the same, only this one he slid to her back and lower to cup her ass. He tugged her to him as he used his free hand to open the pickup's passenger door.

He maneuvered her into the pickup truck, not seeming to have any difficulty lifting her to put her on the seat. She wrapped her legs around his thighs, rubbing her calves against him as she stopped him from pulling away. She wasn't done kissing him yet.

Rough and calloused fingertips worked the buttons on her blouse and she gasped softly, biting his lower lip as he slid his hand inside the blouse. She wasn't overly endowed, matching her rather slight height and build, so she'd gone without a bra tonight. He seemed to like that a lot.

"Thor," she murmured.

"What?" he said.

"There," she said as his thumb stroked her nipple just right.

"You know this would work a lot better somewhere I don't have to be worry about getting arrested for indecent exposure."

"You're not exposed."

"But I really, really want to be about now." He dropped his head, parting her blouse enough for him to kiss the top of her breast. "And I really, really want you to be, too."

"Then fix it," she whispered as his lips slid lower along her breast.

"Fix it?" He asked, capturing a nipple and grazing it with his tongue.

She laughed, lifting his head to look at him. "Take me where being exposed won't be a crime."

"You sure?"

"Does it seem like I'm not sure?" she asked incredulously.

"And no spurned boyfriend or pissed off father is going to come after me with a shotgun?"

"No."

"I find that hard to believe."

"My dad doesn't even know where I am!"

"Not that part. I figured you wouldn't be at a place like this with his blessing. The boyfriend part."

"Nope."

"Why?"

She sighed, not sure what to tell him without revealing too much. It was too soon.

"I don't know. You'd have to ask them, I guess."

She got bold then, bolder than she'd been to this point anyway. Because anyone who knew her would say she was bold beyond anything they thought she was capable of just by showing up at the bar tonight. She took his hand, placing it against her inner thigh. She slid it up a little, under her skirt. Her eyes fell closed and she practically hummed when his fingertips grazed her panties.

"You trying to see that I get arrested?" he asked, a fingertip sliding inside the elastic of her panties and grazing her labia.

"No, absolutely not."

He slid his hand out from under her skirt. She watched entranced as he licked his fingertip never taking his eyes off of her.

"I have an apartment just a couple of blocks away."

"And we're sitting here why?"

He chuckled softly, but he didn't look truly amused just then. He was looking at her as if he might like to devour her. She didn't mind the idea; she'd just never seen the look aimed at her before.

He stepped away from her then, her legs dropping from around him before he helped her shift to sitting the right way on his seat. She adjusted her skirt as best as she could while he went to the other side of the pickup.

She sat silently as he drove the short distance to his garage.

"Your apartment's here?" she asked. She'd never thought of that.

"Yes and no," he said, shutting off the engine. "I own the garage over there," he said, pointing to the building she already knew was his.

"Okay."

"I have an apartment above the garage."

"You live where you work?"

"Not normally. The apartment is for nights I have to pull an all-nighter and need a couple hours of shut eye. Or if I have too much to drink at Bill's down the street I can stumble back here instead of getting in my pickup truck and risking killing myself or someone else."

"And bringing home strange women?"

He chuckled, opening his door. She followed suit, getting out of her side and following him to the regular door that led to the garage versus the big garage door. He worked the lock, grabbed a flashlight from nearby inside. She heard four beeps, assuming he was turning off his alarm.

"Stairs are right here. The light leading up there is burnt out," he said, gesturing with the flashlight. "I wasn't planning on coming back here tonight so didn't change it before I left."

"That's okay."

She followed him, a glance back at the garage for a second. God he'd scared her that night. It was the closest anyone had come to crushing her dreams about Thor and how awesome he was. She smiled a little, remembering him tossing her Thor helmet back to her claiming he'd left his at home. Of course he hadn't, he was being nice to a little girl and returning her idol's headgear to her. If it was possible to fall in love with someone in less than five minutes, Sara had done it that night.

"You all right?"

"Yeah, sorry," she said, forgetting for a moment what she was doing here.

The upstairs wasn't finished or anything other than a sectioned off area she imagined where the apartment he'd mentioned was. There were car parts and boxes everywhere else.

"This place is huge," she said. She'd had no idea.

"I've got space underneath, too."

"Wow," she said, remembering how he'd made his appearance that night. She wondered where that lift was in relation to where they stood now. Maybe sometime she'd ask him.

"I'm sure you're impressed," he said dryly.

She frowned. "Why do you do that?"

"Do what?"

"Put yourself down like that?"

"I am what I am, honey. A mechanic."

"Who owns a garage."

"Still it is what it is."

"There's nothing wrong with it."

"You learn that in college? They teach you how everyone is supposed to contribute to society?"

She touched his back, flinching a little when he seemed surprised at the touch. She saw his grip on the flashlight loosen a little and she wondered if he really wasn't used to getting touched. Or if she'd just surprised him somehow.

He opened a door and let her pass through.

"The sheets are clean," he said, apparently he saw her glancing at the bed.

"I didn't think."

He shrugged. "I can imagine what may be crossing your mind about now. I'm the only one who sleeps here and I bring them home and wash them every time I use them."

"Erik, you don't have to."

"Yeah, I think I do. I see this isn't what you deserve, but I'm a man, honey. I'm not going to turn a willing woman away whatever her crazy reasons for coming home with me are, but my house is too far."

"Too far?"

She found it hard to believe he lived very far from here. He didn't seem like the type to have a house clear across town from his garage. He'd want to be close by in case the alarm went off and he had to come down to investigate.

"Yeah, too far tonight anyway. Would take too long to get there."

He lifted her up then. She gave a soft shriek, wrapping her legs around him as he slanted his mouth over hers. Maybe he'd thought outside the bar she wasn't a sure thing and held back some. She wasn't sure, but this kiss was almost brutal in its intensity. Her lips parted at his prompting and there was his tongue, seeking hers out. She met his cautiously, letting him lead as he set her on the bed.

She whimpered softly, not wanting him to go anywhere.

He set the flashlight, now off, on a little table near the bed. His Cubs cap followed the flashlight. And then his shirt. There were a couple of windows in the room, but they were kind of high up so she couldn't see real well. She didn't need to, though, to see that all the muscles and hardness about him she'd pictured over the years wasn't at all imagined or embellished. A light dusting of hair on his chest was accompanied by a light tuft disappearing into his jeans, which he was working on unzipping now.

He kicked his boots off and shed his jeans. If he expected her to turn away or to get up and say this wasn't what she wanted after all, he was not going to hear those things.

"No, don't," he said when she started working the buttons on her blouse. She hadn't buttoned the ones he'd undone in his pickup so she didn't have too many more to undo.

"But you're…"

"I know. I want to do it."

"All right," she said, getting a warm feeling in the pit of her stomach that he wanted to touch her.

He stopped short of getting completely naked, leaving his boxers on before joining her on the bed. He brought her toward him so she was seated on top of him. She could feel very clearly that he was ready for this. She was, too, she was just nervous.

He worked the buttons on her blouse, letting it fall open so he could cup her breasts.

"Why no bra?"

She shrugged. "Flat-chested girls don't really need them."

"You're not flat-chested."

"I'm not upset about it or anything." She was stopped from saying more as he leaned up a little and brought his mouth to a nipple while his thumb stroked the other to a hardened state.

He slid her blouse off the rest of the way, letting it fall to the bed. He cupped her ass then, drawing her closer to him as he slid his mouth lower. He found the zipper on her skirt and worked it down. She slid beside him so he could slide it off.

"I like red," he quipped when he noticed her panties.

"Me, too," she whispered.

They joined her skirt and blouse and then he was there between her legs, causing her to cry out from the intensity feeling him lick and suck on her there caused. A finger joined his tongue, parting her lips and sliding inside of her which made her gasp.

"You okay?"

"Mm hmm," she said, not sure she could talk just then.

He slid off the bed. She watched as he reached to the table, heard what must have been a drawer open and close, and then he shed his boxers. She wanted to touch him as he sat on the edge of the bed. She turned onto her side, letting a hand slide along his back and lower to his ass as he opened a rubber packet and slid it over his shaft.

He turned to face her then, hand skimming along her body as hers slid along his leg and hip.

"There are a million questions going through my mind right now," he said, sliding a finger inside of her and using his thumb to stroke her nub.

"There are?" she asked with a frown.

"Yes, you don't seem to be drunk."

"I'm not," she said quickly.

"That would be my biggest concern."

"I'm not drunk, Erik. I didn't even finish that second beer of mine you bought me."

"Nothing to drink before Bill's?"

"No!"

He slid his finger out of her, tracing it along her thigh to her hip and along her stomach as he moved on top of her. He looked at her and she looked back, refusing to look away no matter how tempting it was just then to do that. He must have been okay with what he saw because he kissed her again.

He slid inside of her and she gripped his upper arms for all she was worth. She knew he wasn't out to hurt her. He'd done absolutely nothing to indicate he wanted to do that. He'd been kinder than she expected truthfully, considering this was a one-night stand. She leaned up, kissing his chest and darting her tongue along it until she reached one of his nipples. She latched onto it, licking and sucking which he seemed to enjoy quite a bit.

After a little while he rolled them so she was on top of him. She thought him being inside of her this way, hitting a spot that felt incredibly good was the best thing ever. He reached between her legs, stroking her nub as she worked his length in and out of her. She gripped his hips, getting braver and sliding herself over him harder and faster. She cried out as she finished, assuming her breathing would go back to normal eventually. He grabbed her hips, taking control of his thrusts now which she was fine with. She watched him, their gazes locked as he thrust up and into her deeper and deeper, faster and faster. His shoulders and chest were glistening and moist to the touch from his exertion. She couldn't imagine anything or anyone more beautiful just then as him gasping and groaning through gritted teeth as he finished.

She stayed like that, leaning on his chest while straddling him. She listened to his heart rate slow, running a fingertip along his chest. He moved her so she was beside him and stood from the bed. He left the room for a minute or two, returning to her and the bed.

He regarded her in the dark. She didn't need bright light to see the curiosity in his eyes just then.

"So you going to tell me what this was about."

"Not much to say. Maybe I just wanted good sex tonight."

"That'd be logical if I didn't know that you hadn't before tonight."

"You can tell that?"

"It's been a while I admit since I've been with a virgin, and maybe that's why it was so obvious to me, but yes."

"Oh," she said, not having counted on that.

"Hey, there's nothing wrong with it, but it does make me curious. I mean, girls in my neighborhood or this neighborhood, they wouldn't think twice of giving it away casually. You, though, don't strike me as the same kind of girl. College. Nice clothes. Articulate. Big brothers who teach them about baseball."

She ran a foot along his calf, glad he hadn't gotten dressed yet. She wasn't sure how this was supposed to work. Was she supposed to leave? He was talking to her, though, so that didn't seem right.

"So?" he prompted.

She ran a hand along his chest, lower to his stomach, and finally between his legs. She hadn't touched him before they'd had sex. He probably understood now why she hadn't, but it wasn't that she didn't want to.

"Do I need to have a reason?"

"I suppose not."

She sighed softly, reaching up to kiss his chest and then his mouth as she stroked his length. He wasn't hard at first, but that seemed to be changing pretty quickly.

"There was no one else it could have been for me except you."

"Come again?" he asked.

She laughed softly, kissing along his jaw to his ear. She circled it with her tongue, kissing it before moving to the side of his neck. She licked and sucked the skin there, groaning softly as he shifted on the bed to grant her better access.

"I met you before," she said.

"I'd remember meeting you, Sara."

"Maybe you wouldn't, I don't know," she said, not having thought on the fact that night may not have been as special to him as it was to her.

"Want to fill me in on the details then?"

"Well, it was a while ago."

"Okay," he said. "You're good at distracting me," he said with a chuckle.

"Not good enough evidently if you're still asking questions."

"Oh, you do very well."

"Yeah?"

"Yes. Want to lean over and grab me another one?"

"Sure," she said.

He slid a hand between her legs as she leaned over to reach for the drawer in question and the rubber packet in it.

"I thought you're the only one who sleeps here," she teased.

"A man's got to be prepared, honey. If I wasn't it would've been a very frustrating night for us both."

"I guess so," she said, handing him the packet. She leaned down to kiss him before he moved her next to him. He slid the rubber on before moving on top of her again. He found her neck, mimicking what she'd been doing a few minutes ago to his as he slid into her again.

"Too soon?" he asked at her soft gasp.

"No," she said quickly. "Not at all."

"Okay," he said as he pushed further into her.

"You just feel so good. Better than I imagined."

"You've imagined me?"

She laughed, burying her head against his chest. "More times than you probably want to know about or you'll think I'm insane."

"I don't know that I'd think you're insane. Odd choice in fantasies I suppose."

"Not to me you aren't."

"Sara," he murmured.

"You were my hero, Erik. Of course I only knew you as Mr. Dawson until tonight."

He didn't ask any more questions until they'd both finished again. She was glad for that, because she really wasn't sure how he'd react to finding out exactly who she was.

"You clearly have me at an advantage, Sara. So you either need to let me in on your secret or stop teasing me with it."

"You fixed our car one night."

"I fix a lot of cars, honey. You need to be more specific."

"We had a flat tire and a broken windshield."

He frowned slightly, shook his head as if he was trying to remember but couldn't.

"It was me, my brother, his friend, and our babysitter. You weren't going to give us our car because we were short money we owed you."

"You gave me your helmet."

"Yes," she said softly.

"That was you?" he asked.

"That was me."

"How old are you now?" he asked.

She chuckled. "I'm twenty-one."

"You're sure because it doesn't seem that long ago."

"It's been thirteen years."

"And you what?"

"I don't know. You were my hero. You helped us. You gave me my helmet back, but still kept up the ruse that you really were Thor."

"So tonight?"

"I've driven by a couple of times, saw you were still in business. I stopped a few times, thinking I could just come in and tell you who I was, say thank you."

"This was your thanking me?"

"This was my needing to see you're for real."

"Why?"

"Because no one has come close to comparing to you. They've tried, but they always failed somehow."

"I'm not that good of a person, Sara."

"But you are! You were! You didn't have to do that, but you did. You saved our lives."

"I did nothing of the sort."

"You have no idea what we'd been through to that point that night and what we went through even afterward. It was crazy. One of those nights you read about and think it can't possibly be real. Mobsters trying to kill us and everything." She went on and told him everything, starting with Brenda's phone call that kicked off the night all the way to the end.

"That would explain the skeezy suit coming to my place after you left."

"What?"

"I told them I didn't know anything about you. John had put the car under his name, but I could tell they didn't believe me. Had guys staked out of my garage for days afterward. I'm not sure why, your car was gone."

"Did they hurt you?"

"No," he said with a frown. "Now that you explain the situation I'm surprised they didn't, but no."

"I'm glad," she said. She hated the idea of someone hurting him because of them even if it would have happened years ago. "Anyway. I just had to see you and waiting until I was legal seemed important. I didn't want you looking at me like I was a kid."

"Well, there's no question you're not a kid anymore."

She blushed, settling her cheek against his chest to hide it from him.

"So the others?"

"My brother is married with one son and another baby on the way. Darryl is a video game designer, not married and probably never will be. Chris, my babysitter, is married to someone we met that night. No kids. She's a teacher."

"And you're finishing college soon?"

"I have another year left."

"And then what?"

"Well, that night got me thinking. That girl we met, the runaway that Darryl was hitting on before he knew she was a hooker. I want to help people like that. She clearly didn't want to be there anymore, but she thought she had no choice. I'm sure her parents would have taken her back, but then I was too young to ask why she'd run away. Maybe her father abused her or her mom did so going home wasn't an option."

"Right, I can see that."

"So, that's what I want to do."

"So you're going to stay in Chicago then?"

"I planned on it, yeah. I mean, this is where my family is. I can't imagine being far away from Brad."

"That's sweet."

"What about you?"

"No big brothers or little sisters. I'm an only child. My mom's gone. Dad's still around, but we don't talk much."

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be. It wasn't a terrible life growing up, but we weren't close. I don't think they wanted kids at all, so when I came onto the scene they weren't sure what to make of me. They did the best they could, but they could've done better. I finished high school barely. The only thing that kept me going was auto class. Mom died, left me some life insurance money."

"And you bought this place?"

"Yes."

"I'm still sorry. I hear about families like that, but where I grew up things like that just didn't happen. After that night I never saw another prostitute ever."

"Come around these parts of Chicago and you will for sure."

"I've only ever come down here to come here and I've never gotten out of my car before."

"Good thinking."

They grew quiet. She wasn't sure what to make of the silence. He had his arm around her, though.

"So in my pickup truck earlier. I did hear you say Thor, didn't I?"

She giggled softly. "Yes. God you have no idea."

"It's all right, honey, I'll be your Thor."

"You need a cape and a helmet."

"I'm fresh out of capes, but the helmet. I told you I had one at home."

"Yeah?"

"Want to go home with me and see it?"

"That's just a line to get me home with you, isn't it? You don't really have a Thor helmet at your house?"

"Maybe I went out and bought one after that night."

"You didn't."

"You weren't the only one affected by that night, Sara. Kids can be so honest and pure. The fact you were willing to give me, a total stranger who was acting like a complete douchebag to you guys, something that meant so much to you. Well, I needed a reminder people like that existed."

"You really bought one?"

"Come with me and find out."

"Hmm," she said. She hadn't been expecting that.

"Hey, if you have other things to do that's fine. Just say so."

"No, I don't. I just wasn't expecting…"

"What were you expecting?"

"Nothing really. I mean, I had to do this. Get you out of my system."

"And now that you have?" he asked. He wasn't playing fair at all, sliding his fingers over her nub teasingly.

"I think I may need a while longer for it to take."

"Yeah?"

"You are the God of Thunder after all."

"Did I make the earth shake for you, Sara?"

"You might have to prove to me it was real and not my imagination making it shake."

"Oh yeah? Is that right?"

"Yes."