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I've always liked fairytales.

In the rare moments when my mother was feeling good during her sober times, she'd watch me lay sleeplessly in my bed and tell me tales. Some where from books. Others from movies she recalled. And some she even made up herself.

Then when I was living on the streets, I met an amazing woman. She was only a few years older than me, but she had a little girl. She was the most wonderful woman I've ever known. She had to do some of the worst things to get money to eat - things that I now know from experience just how terrible they are - but she never seemed to care. When she was with her child, she was never in a bad mood. Never upset or showed any cares in the world. Besides that girl that was her blood.

They lived in one of the coldest alleyways. Far away from any bon fires or the company of warm bodies. She'd lay her little girl down and give her the only two blankets they had. She'd lay on the wet ground and shiver. Still, she didn't mind. As long as her baby was healthy and happy, so was she. They stayed far away to ensure the safety of that little one. The temptation to join warmth was never in her mind.

After coming home from where ever she was working at that night, she'd always tell her child a fairytale. Because even though she worked all day, she was never late. She never missed bedtime, or tucking her girl in to bed. She loved telling those fairytales as much as the girl loved to hear them.

Tales of beauties and beasts. Sleeping women in tall castles awaiting the first kiss of true love. Princes coming to the rescue to damsels in distress. The way she wove her words, those stories seemed to come to life, while laying in those hard alleys, staring up at the barely visible stars while the cold wind blew on through.

I myself, was always a skeptic. But in those late nights, in that state of not quite awake but just before losing consciousness, that skeptism would run away. And in it's place, the last of my childhood innocence would allow my mind to believe these fairytales to be true. I'd be lulled to sleep with images from the stories. Telling myself that they weren't just simple made up tales.

Come morning, when I was still laying in that damp, frosty alley, I'd realize that there was no prince to come sweep me away. There was no first kiss of true love. No happily ever afters. The mornings of realization were often cruel. But night time came quick enough, and the routine would start all over again.

Now I'm in Section. I no longer hold any part of childhood innocence. It died a long time ago. I know for sure now that there are no princes in shining armor. Girls in distress go left unattended and die. Beasts are just monsters without hearts - nothing soft and loving secretly hidden inside.

It's an unfortunate realization, but nonetheless accurate.

This mission is tiring. It reminds me of those back streets that I used to sleep in as a teenager, before Section came and took me away. The wind is bitter and cold. The pavement below my feet is slick with recent rainwater. The streetlights are starting to flicker on. The drug addicts and the women of the night are starting to come out. And I find my mind wandering back to those times that I was one of these homeless people, staring lifelessly and hopelessly up at the people who actually had someplace to go. Nice, warm beds. Blazing fires. Caring families. I start to remember my own family, less than caring as it was.

My mind isn't on the mission. If the target walked in plain sight in front of me, I doubt I would recognize him. Not a good thing, certainly. With the mission tapes rolling, they'd have grounds of cancellation or at the very least, abeyance. But my thoughts, swept away with the poor scenery, don't care. They can't be touched, or returned for the present.

My name is called. I don't turn or reply. I try to shake myself out of it, but it's too late. I've been dragged too far. I'm just too far gone now.

"Ni-ki-ta!" it's said firmly this time, with anger or frustration backing it.

A gunshot finally tugs me hard enough to slam me in to the now. I see a man, no more than three feet from me, with a gun pointed at my head. He's gasping now, a blood stain starting to grow on his chest. Looking the opposite direction, I see Michael, his gun pulled out. He looks at me with his blank stare no where in sight. He looks scared. Worried. Bewildered.

"What happened?" he asked, his soft accented voice sounding harsh. But his eyes revealed that he was speaking from fright.

He was clothed in complete black. Not quite shining armor. The farthest thing from an ugly beast. Too shattered to be a monster. Too reserved to lend her a first kiss of true love. And he never led on the idea that there could ever be a happily ever after in this place. I walk towards him, compelled now, trying to block the image of the man dead upon that familiar street.

"I'm sorry," I whisper in apology.

He stares at me intently, doing a physical and mental check while making sure I was all there still. "Don't let it happen again," was all he said as he turned to walk back to the mission van, reporting back to Comm about mission completion. I listen as he created excuses for my lapse in attention, woving a story that told how I was innocent of any wrong doing. He did this, like always when I messed up on my part of a job.

The prince to nothing but Section One, he was no fairytale man. But, when he wasn't deceiving and manipulating me, I could see that he came to my rescue whenever I am in distress. That he was my own hero - the reason why I am still alive after a few missions gone bad and repeatedly saving me from abeyance.

It would make little kids tremble if turned in to a fairytale, but it was the closest I could get inside these prison walls. It was nearly enough to rekindle that little girl belief that I had lost so early on in my training. Compassion and caring and all those feelings that were nightmares to Operations may not have left, but my childlike approach to anything had.

Who knew that maybe, just maybe, it would be the most unlikely person of all to bring it back?