Walk the Line

By TheLostMaximoff

Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. This is my first Runaways fic even though I've been a fan of the series for many months. R/R and be gentle

I had seen posters for it one day while we went on a food run. I remember it catching my eye as we passed by some building. Marvels: A Traveling Exhibit of Superhero Memorabilia. It wasn't something a lot of the locals would be attracted to. Most people out here in Los Angeles aren't exactly respectful of the superhero community. They're probably just jealous because the last superheroes we had out here were the West Coast Avengers. Well, I guess you could count us now. I remember the others made fun of me for insisting that we should check out the exhibit. I can't help it; love of heroics is in my blood. Damn, why'd I have to start thinking about . . . him?

The museum is already closed and the others are already asleep. I pull the collar up on my jacket and look around. Nobody comes around back much. They keep a coded lock on the door just in case though. For a normal person, that would be a stopping point but I've never been a normal person. I give the keypad a little zap and hear the bolt on the door click. I slip inside quietly, making my way through the various other exhibits that decorate the halls. Fossilized remains of prehistoric creatures and artifacts from ancient cultures stare back at me. None of these things could ever grab my attention, not like they could.

I remember when I was little I told my mom, God rest her soul, that I wanted to be a superhero. She just laughed, the half nervous and half polite laugh that parents give when their kid says something totally endearing yet totally unrealistic and naïve. Most kids say stuff like that. They wanna be superheroes, rock stars, celebrities, heck even presidents of the United States. But the funny thing is that most kids grow out of that little phase. I never did. Maybe I stopped saying "superhero" when my mom or my teachers asked about my future but I never stopped believing it.

The exhibit is larger than what I would've expected. There's a giant banner hung over the entrance and the faces on it read like a who's-who of modern day gods. I stare at it and wonder what it would be like to have my face up there. What would it be like to be a Marvel? I've dreamed about it all my life. It started out as a naïve one, like most dreams do, but it stuck with me as I grew up. What would it be like to go toe-to-toe with Galactus? What would it be like to stare Magneto in the eye and not even flinch? What would it be like to have people say your name in the same sentence as Captain America or Spider-Man? When I was a kid, I could only dream of answers to these burning questions but as I grew up I found out that life isn't so glorious no matter whether or not you wear tights.

I cross quietly over the threshold, entering the room and suddenly exhaling the breath I had been holding. It's hard to describe what it's like to look at these things. There's a real shield worn by Captain America here. The paint is slightly worn and there are a couple of dings in it. He probably got those from knocking around the Red Skull or Baron Zemo or something. Man, this thing is a classic. Even though the paint's dulled, it's still beautiful. There're other things here too. There's a helmet from Iron Man's armor and a real working flare gun like the kind the Fantastic Four use. There's an old Spider-Man costume with a few torn places in it, evidence of a fight with Doctor Octopus. Any ordinary person would stop now and wonder who would bother to care about this junk let alone collect it. I'm not him and I hope to God I never am because this stuff isn't just stuff to me. It's not just a shield or a helmet or a beat-up costume. There's more here, so much more than what people can see. These people, these heroes, are our future. We don't have titans and we don't have demigods. We don't have people who will stand up for what's right except for them. Our society, our world, needs them because if we don't have people who are willing to stand up for what's right then what kind of world do we have? Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one of the Runaways who gets that, who gets that we're part of something bigger than we ever could be. Maybe I was born to get that, maybe I was programmed to get that. It doesn't matter to me either way.

I move down the aisle and come face to face with a life-size replica of Vision. A memorial plaque lies under it, a testament to a hero who has fallen. It's more than that for me though. People often wonder what makes someone a human being. Is it the flesh on their bones, the blood in their veins, or what's inside their heart and their soul that makes them a human being? I don't wonder because I know what makes someone a man. They taught it to me. So this robot, this man, that they called the Vision is my brother because he came from the same creator as I did.

"I'm sorry," I tell the statue, "You don't know me and you never will but I'm sorry all the same." I used to agree with my mother that bad kids stay bad for life but I'm growing up now and I'm tired of listening to talk of people being beyond redemption.

"I guess you could say we're brothers," I tell the statue as I hold out my hand and show it a little bit of my sparks. I have a compulsion to use my powers. In any situation that they can be applied to, I sometimes have to fight the urge to use them. It's an urge born out of a good intention, out of a desire to make life so much better for everyone else. But I know what I'm capable of so I hold back. Victorious, the being destined to kill every superhero on the planet. Victor Mancha, the teenage kid who wants only to be a superhero. I wonder if he struggled with the same thing, wonder if he walked the same line. Can I live up to that ideal? Can I find redemption for the sin of just being created?

"You were a good man," I tell the statue, "I'll make you and my mother proud of me." My name is Victor Mancha. Some day, they might call me Victorious. I want so badly to be a hero, to have my name up in lights and make everyone's life a little bit better. I want to be a statue that stands tall and inspires kids like me. However, I know what can happen and I struggle with temptation, the temptation to become what Ultron created me to be and fulfill my destiny. I know my future but the best thing about a hero is that even though he's one man, he can triumph over anything. So I'll keep myself in check, fighting hard every day to ignore the programming that's hardwired into my brain but not ingrained into my soul. Every day, I will walk the line between being a hero and being a villain and every day I will refuse to fall.