[Author's Note] All future chapters have finally been migrated to the sequel. Go my minions of darkness! Go find my sequel!

It was midnight, and she was running. Not from anything, or after anything, but for the joy of it. She hopped from rooftop to rooftop, clearing the jumps with a certainty—a peace of mind—which other folk never got to depend on. Life was alive while she was moving: If she was ever too tired, she'd know, and if she was ever off-balance, she'd know, and she feared nothing up above the world.

Most people probably had no idea how big traffic lights were, for the same reason the moon looked roughly the same size as the sun. But when she was tight-roping across the street intersection, fourteen feet above hard pavement, on cords sturdy and thick beneath her feet, she could see the lights were three and a half feet tall. At thirteen (and still waiting on a growth spurt that might never come) she was only taller than them by another foot and a half. And ya know what else was funny? The mono-directional nature of the light meant she could stand right on top of one and still be invisible!

The wind picked up. She lunged forward and grabbed the heavy support cable with both hands, and swung under it as she folded her knees about it in a safety clamp. She'd monkey her way the rest of the distance! Monkey, monkey, monkey! She reached the pole at the end, slid halfway down, and found a nice fire escape to alight on. There! Safe as a bug in a rug. She plopped down, kicked up her feet, and nursed on some Gatorade.

Did she have anything to eat? Phooey, she needed to find some kind of midnight snack. That would probably require putting regular pants and her hoodie back on, hmm. Decisions, decisions.

A loud noise had her leaping to her feet.

Gunshots! They weren't coming from Cashew's, the dive bar down the street. They were coming from overhead and somewhere to the north. She whirled about in wide-eyed curiously and then quickly unzipped her backpack and stuffed the water back in. She grabbed a few implements and strapped them into her outfit, and then hung the backpack up on an overhead light to leave it there as she stepped over the escape railing.

Move move move! She hurried along the shoddy copper wall pipes, darting down the alleyway. Fence ahead? Her gaze wove up the wall and she followed it and hit the brick at a horizontal wall-run. Push. She shoved off the brick, toed the fence, pushed off of it, and landed on the ground beyond. She hit an intersection of tightly crammed buildings. Left? Crack! The commotion was moving. She bolted to try and intercept whatever was happening. She crossed a narrow street, and slid into another alleyway. Where? She just wanted to see! Catch a glimpse of all the excite-!

A premonition crested over her and she skid to a halt and backpedaled, pulling fresh throwing knives from her sleeves. Only an instant later, a heavy and thunderous boom hit the roof of the dumpster just in front of her, and dented it, and then slid off. Her skin prickled at the nearness.

"Ow-!" a soft (and almost guilty-sounding) mutter clued her in that the 'heavy' thing had been a person, and probably male, and possibly young, though the darkness nearly occluded her view of him. He wasn't even on his feet yet when two slender men appeared over the edge of the roof. One had a gun and fired off a heavy slug into the alleyway (though he missed), while the other jumped down—with his hand and boot against the brick to slow his fall!—to pursue on foot. Betimes he'd cleared a three story decent like it was no more than child's play, and drawn a katana from the sheathe at his side, she had deduced the only logical explanation:

Clearly, they were evil ninjas. They were wearing black. They had black masks without proper eye holes. Their outfits were martial arts outfits. Every visible melee weapon was Japanese. Nobody was dressed in a bat outfit for clarification purposes.

Evil. Ninjas.

Their poor, dumpster-denting quarry rolled upright, clearly trying to bolt deeper into the alleyway; But high up above him, the long-barreled shotgun tracked his head, and she could already see a messy future.

Whelp. That left only one thing to do: "Lookie Here!" she shouted gleefully to startle every single last remaining person in the alleyway.

Then came the throw: Fingers clasped the handle of her first knife, elbow wove first back then forward, arm pulled the hand in from the side, body tilted to angle everything up, fingers brushed the handle in a sliding release...! The knife left her fingers, light as a silver feather, swinging out of the alleyway as its trajectory corrected from a ninety-degree angle to a full forward stab. It had a long distance to clear heading upward to the roof, and she was aiming for a small target.

Next, second throw already coming: Fingers pinched the blade itself, weapon held upright with the tip down, elbow wove to pull the full usage of the arm muscles into the snap. Two hundred and seventy degree flip. The knife left her hand like a baseball, rotating handle over tip as it cleared the shorter distance.

Th-thuck the collisions overlapped, each of them as sharp as the other, one slicing through a throat, the other landing between ribs. Two bodies listed, began to collapse, one in a messy sputter of red. She twisted about, towards the street, where no footsteps gave away that she was about to be 'surprised.' She plucked a third knife from a sheathe on her abdomen: thicker, heavier, because her future reflections were softer-edged.

Another martial artist with a black mask slid into view of the alleyway, and by then her knife was already airborne. The blade hit into something like a leather breastplate, but sank deep, and her target twisted as he fell. Three white spaces in the future. Three bodies.


She stood for there a moment, heart hammering wildly, head cocked as she listened and looked for reflections. No more danger? Not in the near future, anyway. Me: 3, Evil Ninjas: 0! Woohoo! Time to celebrate; where was the nearest ice cream store!? But her brows furrowed and she turned about just in time to hear the heavy, hollow-sounding scrape of a manhole cover being removed.

"Excuse me!" she shouted indignantly at the black alleyway. "Are you actually trying to escape into a sewer without even stopping to thank me!?"

The scrape paused. A meek, male voice responded: "Um..."

She leaned back and deflated a little. Whoever this was, they didn't sound particularly old despite what the dented dumpster had to say about the matter. What had this dude done to anger people in masks with samurai swords and shotguns? "Because that would be very rude of you," she continued her reproach, grumpy but curious.

"Thank you," he answered tightly, and again she thought that his voice sounded pretty young.

"Well," she cleared her throat and tried to be less mean. "You're welcome. Who are you?"

"I... ...need to go."

"What, just like that?" She wrinkled her nose, for it was she who was normally trying to avoid other people. Holy cheese puffs, a role reversal! Code Red! Code Red! You're probably talking to a super hero's kid! He might have parents around here somewhere! Act natural and flee! Confess everything to dad! Dodge out of town, we can go live in Mexico again! Aaah! (Oh my god, I'm so curious, Who is this, What a nice voice, Who were the Evil Ninjas, What is happening) AHHHHH! ! !

"Uh. Yeah. Goodbye?"

Blink blink. She swallowed back on hysterical adrenaline, opened her mouth, and words fell out: "Look, as one peculiar kid out at midnight to another, I should tell you that you probably can't surprise me." That was a perfectly true statement.

He made a sound like a laugh-that-wasn't. "Doubt it."

Rack your brain. "Does that mean you're a... mutant or something?" Jean Grey's school for special children is just up the Hudson, after all. Let it never be said that we lack for mutants!

He was silent, but she was nearly sure he hadn't escaped down into the sewer without her hearing something. Those ladder rungs made a loud echo when one climbed down them, and she knew from experience. A smile broke out on her face.

"Well, whoever you are, you're not going to scare me." Yes, that's it! Don't run away, strange, dumpster-denting sewer-child! Talk to me! Please? "What's your name?"

"...Sandro," he supplied.

"'Sandro?'" Her nose wrinkled. "Like the painter? Sandro Botticelli?"

He reacted with startled incredulity: "It's a perfectly common name! You just know a bunch of painters' names off the top of your head for some reason?"

"Ha! Look here mister: I just killed three people to save your sorry ass, and you want to critique my Jeopardy skills at this juncture?!"

She heard a scrape, followed by the tinny, wobbling echoes of the manhole cover as it slipped back into place. No! But it was too late, and he'd used the cover of her sass to escape. No no no. Oh... Poop. She swore under her breath, looked away, and raised a hand to rub at the back of her neck and hood. Nobody likes me. That's fair, I guess. Randomly murdering people in alleyways: Not a great way to make friends. Frowny-face emoticon.

But, a few second later, her conclusion was proven wrong, because he suddenly stepped out into the street lighting, and she looked to him excitedly. He was tall. She wasn't quite five feet tall, and he was probably just shy of six and towered over her. He wore a heavy gray trench coat with a high collar and a hood, and his face was too shadowed to make out anything. He even kept his hands in his pockets. She could tell his shoulders were broad at least, and his limbs didn't look ungainly, and she could see the edges of some kind of curved weapon strapped against his back.

"Happy?" he asked, and for all that he was the size of an adult, his voice still sounded burred like a boy's did midway through puberty.

She furrowed brows at him, confused. "How... old are you?"

He scuffed a foot for a moment before answering. "Thirteen."

Her eyes widened. "You can't be thirteen!" she squawked, loudly. "You're enormous!"

His body language seemed to fold backwards a bit in surprise, but then he said in a recalcitrant tone, "You haven't seen my father."

She gaped at him a moment. But he was being earnest, wasn't she? She straightened up and beamed at him. "I'm thirteen," she laughed. "Wow. The height difference is sort of hilarious. I mean. Um." She rubbed at the back of her hood again. "Do you want to get a coke and some food, maybe, and you can tell me what I stepped in?"

"I can't go into a restaurant..." Sandro muttered, though he glanced around at the bodies she/they had left in the alleyway and seemed to agree it was a bit of a mess and deserved an explanation.

She shrugged and looked at the ground. "There's a twenty-four hour pizza stand down the street. They have a bunch outdoor seating, but it's not tremendously well-lit cause no one goes there after dark." She peeked up at him hopefully. "Would that work? I'll pay..."

Hmm, looks like she's run into trouble ;) But you! You've reached the end of 'Buttercup' XD. That's right! THE END! The story is over!

"Wait!" you say, "It can't be done!" And you are right. But for the next chapter, you've got to go to the sequel! Click on my profile name and look for 'Clown Girl and Ninja Turtle.' And no, I totally didn't spoiler anything with that title; There are only so many possible identities for the mutant trench-coated ninja named after a Renaissance Painter!

We're also jumping categories, from Nolan's Batman to the Ninja Turtles. I have a funny feeling we'll be back one day (psst, I know we will) but for now... TO THE SEQUEL!