Decision to go to New York for the summer with my father: worst decision of my entire life, I think to myself dryly. I race down the back alleys, keeping my head down and finding cover anywhere I can. I dodge, weave, lunge, roll, trip, never stopping, never breathing except in gasps that tear at my lungs

The air was rancid with acid on my tongue as I pant and the smoke makes me retch up any food that may have remained in my stomach. An explosion that is only a few blocks away shakes the ground, throwing me off my feet. I feel the sting as the pavement digs into my already blood covered elbows and knees as I roll. I get up and start over again, bent on survival. I duck behind a dumpster as an unknown object flies overhead. I just know that whatever those things are, they are blowing people up without regard to anything or anyone, and I definitely won't be an exception.

Thump, thump, thump, thump my feet go on the pavement. I feel a twinge in my knee.


Not now!

I limp on, trying to ignore the old injury that chooses now, of all times, to make an appearance.

Sweat trickles down my forehead. I feel too weak and light headed to watch where I'm going. I suddenly burst out of the alleyway and into the main street. I let out a little shriek and grab the alley wall, whipping myself back into its shadow. I cling there for a second, letting my sobs rack myself as I rest for a moment, sagging into my own arms.

Suddenly, something catches my eye. Whether it was the wind ruffling the little brown mob of hair, or just a sixth sense, I'll never know, but I look up and see a small boy of about four or five years old standing in the middle of the street. People run by him, fleeing away from oncoming flying objects, but no one takes the time to help him. He must have gotten separated from his parents. He is now standing alone in the debris of the street, staring with wide green eyes at the oncoming bombs.

"Kid!" I hiss, trying to get his attention. "Kid, look at me!" he doesn't even turn. The world seems to slow down, everything is in slow motion. There is no sound. No more bombs, no more gunfire, just me and the boy. After a fraction of a second of hesitation, I start sprinting towards him, but everything is too slow. A bomb goes off on my right, nearly knocking me off my feet, but I press on. Finally, I reach him and grab his tiny body, yanking it against mine protectively, and then everything speeds up. The U. (because they really are Unidentified Flying Objects since I have no idea what they are) are almost on us. Maybe, if I can dodge their fire than I'll be able to make it out, but that is a long shot. Suddenly, a couple of them drop down off the U.F.O's and what I see makes my heart stop.

They are ugly Extraterrestrial creatures. Thick armor like metal encases their whole body while they carry extremely high tech guns in their hands. They seem to almost run on some form of electricity from the wires that I see in their neck. Are they even alive? I shudder and push the boy behind me.

"Get into the alley kid!" I hiss over my shoulder to him. I meet his huge green eyes as he stares up at me. He shakes his head mutely and stubbornly. I grit my teeth in frustration, and admiration. Plucky little kid. But I don't have time for this. The… aliens?... Are almost on us.

"I said get into the alley and run! Do you want me to tell your mother?"

His eyes fill up with unshed tears and he whispers, "My mummy is dead."

I feel a pain in my heart like a rusty, serrated knife stabbing my heart. "You don't want to end up like her do you?" I say a bit harsher than I mean to. "If not, than get your little butt into the alley and run!"

"But you'll die if I go!" he whispers back frantically.

That is probably true, ok, it is true. I'll die anyway whether he stays or not, but I'd rather buy his time than let him die with me, though he will probably die anyway. I can't tell him that. "Kid, I'll be fine. I promise. Now GO!"

He stubbornly shakes his head again and I'm out of time. The first alien is loping towards me in an awkward, jerky, crouching stride. It points its gun, aiming at me. I push the kid one way and dive the other, turning a roll and springing up. I lunge at the alien just as it turns to me, and before it can pull the trigger, I push the nozzle towards another alien, taking it out instead of me.

I grab the gun and try to twist it out of the alien's grip, but only succeed in sending it skidding away from both of us. The alien grapples with me, both seeking a hold. I know absolutely no fighting what-so-ever. I know I can't punch it, not with that armor on.

The alien just gets a hold on my throat and its iron fingers are slowly throttling the life out of me. I throw a frantic glance in the kid's direction and see another alien closing in on him with a leering grin plastered on its face. Anger floods through me. I use my flexibility (courtesy of my old sport, gymnastics) and throw my leg over the alien's head, pushing my thigh into my own face. While it is resting on the alien's neck and I use my other leg to wrap around the other side of its body. This increases the strain on my neck for a second before it lets go to catch its fall as it pitches forward with my body weight. We roll forward and I gain the upper hand. Purely by accident though, this thing is about twice my strength. I grab the wire that is on its neck and pull with all my might. There is the sizzling sound of electricity and a shock that runs through me before it goes still with a shudder.

I spring up and grab the previously discarded high tech gun. The other alien is now aiming the gun at the boy, who is transfixed with fear, still in the same position as when I pushed him over. I run forward and stab it through the back. It too dies with a shudder. I yank the weapon free and watch it fall to the ground. The kid and I just stare at it for a moment.

The kid is the first to recover and scrambles up beside me.

"What do we do now?" he asks.

"Now, we run for our lives. Go!"

But before we can make it to the alley way, a whole squad of these things land around us. I grab the boy's hand and yank him back behind me again. He whimpers and I whirl around only to face another alien. We are surrounded and I know there is no way we are getting out of this alive, so I grit my teeth and decide to go down fighting for the boy.

I fumble with the gun for a moment before firing it supposedly at one of the aliens. Apparently, I had it facing the wrong way and it shoots behind me and hits an alien behind us. I thank God that the boy is so short. He is standing right behind me.

The kid giggles a little bit, irony abounds considering the circumstances. I feel a small smile twitch my lips as well. The first alien starts loping towards us and I raise the weapon, ready to fire, and then they all start moving.

This is it. This is how I'm going to die. Not how I always imagined, I guess.

I grit my teeth and wait for the first onslaught, but it never comes. Something hits the two of us from behind. At first I think it's an alien, but this thing clamps down on my waist and holds on. I try to twist around, not going down without a fight, when suddenly, the winds starts whistling in my ears and my dark hair starts whipping around my face. I freeze and clamp my eyes shut for no particular reason, willing this odd sensation to go away, but it doesn't.

I open my eyes again and the ground is far away. I see the aliens staring up with baffled expressions on their metal faces. Then I notice another pair of black boots next to mine. Twisting around, I find myself face-to-face with a man. My heart rate accelerates and I start struggling again. Who is this guy, and how does he go swinging between buildings like Spider Man?

His low chuckle resonates in my ear. "If you keep struggling, you'll only fall."

My stomach clenches and I think I blanch a little. He's right, and it's a long ways down. I curl up and clamp onto his arm around my waist like a vice. I feel him chuckle again, which makes me grit my teeth in irritation, but I know better than to argue.

I twist around just to make sure the kid is with us, and sure enough, he is somehow being held on to. This man seems to be holding on to a… bow? Who does he think he is? Legolas? A wire seems to be attached to the bow. I follow it up and see an arrow shot into a concrete wall which seems to be some sort of pulley device since we are being wheeled up. I shudder to think that this man's, my own, and the forty pounds of the kid are all being held on the tiny arrow.

The man seems to read my thoughts, which I find unnerving.

"Those things are made to hold, it won't break," he said with a hint of amusement.

I don't have the time to come up with some snide remark. We reach the top of the building, since the arrow is shot right under the edge of the roof, and with a single hoist, he throws me and the kid up. We roll for a couple feet. I lie there for a second, and then start pushing myself up with a groan. I drag myself over to the kid. He seems alright, but he's not moving. I run my fingers through his hair, like I remember my mother doing when I had a nightmare, and start to speak softly to him.

"Hey kiddo, I need you to get up now. We are safe for a little while, I think," I add on as a second thought. Although one would usually be safe from the war this high up, the aliens have those flying mechanisms. As we speak, a couple zoom overhead. I crouch down on reflex until they are gone.

I start searching for the man, and sure enough, he is laboriously climbing up onto the roof. I consider helping him for a moment, but by the look of things, he has it under control, even if it is straining him. I turn back to the boy and immediately find his huge hazel eyes boring into mine.

"Thank you," he says.

"For what?" I laugh.

"For saving my life," he whispers back. Wow, this five year old is extremely intelligent for his age. What kind of five year old would think of saying that?

"Don't mention it kid. What's your name?"

"Jackson," he replies. I can tell by the look in his eyes that he is still petrified. I try to sooth him.

"Well Jackson, it'll be ok. I promise," I add with a smile. A voice behind me interrupts my thoughts.

"He's not your brother?" the man asks with confusion.

"Never seen him before in my life," I respond. I can see why the man would think that. After all, I was willing to die protecting him. Not many people would do that. I probably did because I know how it feels to be left to the sharks. It's not pretty when everyone abandons you.

He raises an eyebrow in question, but doesn't pursue the subject further. Instead, he offers me a hand, which I gladly except before turning and picking up the little kid and setting him on my hip. Jackson buries his face in my neck and I can feel his hot tears running down my shoulder. I rub soothing circles on his back and turn to the man, looking up at him since he is a good nine or ten inches taller than me.

"So what now?"

He doesn't answer me, but stares at something over my head. His eyes widen for a fraction of a second before he dives at me with a yell. His body hits mine with a force that knocks all the breath out of my lunges. If I wasn't holding Jackson I probably would have punched him or something. The force of the hit carries us back and smashes my back against the glass windows behind me (even though it is a roof, it seems to be some sort of terrace garden that overlooks Manhattan). I feel some jagged cuts on my back as we hit the ground, but something else catches my attention. The place we were standing two seconds ago bursts into flames as open fire from the alien's flying mechanisms pounds against it. Dang, this man must have some killer vision to see that coming.

He rolls off me and grabs the collar of my surplus army jacket and drags me to my feet. I cradle Jackson and pray that he isn't hurt. The man pushes me towards some desks.

"Get the kid behind those and stay out of sight," he orders. I don't argue and stumble over to them, quickly ducking in the compartment underneath one of the desks. It's dark and quiet in here and oddly comforting after the mayhem outside, but it makes me edgy. Some part of my instinct tells me something is not right.

Jackson lifts his head and I see he has a busted lip and a black eye, but nothing to serious. My body took the brunt of the fall, unfortunately. I can feel the small stabs of pain from the glass shards still inside me every time I move a muscle.

I lift a finger to my lips in a motion for Jackson to stay silent. He understands immediately and nods his head sagely, causing a grin to tug my blood covered lips. Kids are adorable. I twist around as much as I can in our confined space and peek out of a crack between the wood.

I look for the man, but I can't see him anywhere. My first thought is he has abandoned us. Maybe that is a little premature considering the fact that he just saved our lives, but after my past one couldn't blame me for having trust issues. My eyes flicker about frantically for any sign of him, but I find nothing, not a shift of shadow nor the slightest sound.

Sounds outside catch my attention. The aliens must have thought us valuable enough to chase after because I can see them jumping onto the terrace. My breath catches in my throat and I hunch down, pulling Jackson even closer to my chest.

The aliens advance with that odd stride of theirs, their guns poised to fire at anything. I count seven of them. They are getting closer and closer. I try my hardest not to breathe or make the smallest sound, but my breathing accelerates with panic. We are on our own, and if they turn over the right table, Jackson and I are dead. It's like one big game of jackpot.

The last alien enters through the shattered window, and suddenly, I see the man's silhouette slither silently down from the rafters. How did he get there? Then again, why am I even asking?

I see him load his bow, aiming at the alien closest to us, and I hold my breath, praying he has good aim.




His arrow finds its mark perfectly and I wonder why I even doubted his skill. The aliens let out ear grating screeches and turn to converge on the man. I panic for a moment, but then see that he has everything completely under control. He uses his bow as a staff at close courters, and then fires when he can, but it is slow going. These things have heavy armor and even someone as trained as the man has a hard time taking one down in a single stroke. I remember just how lucky I was to have survived the first encounter.

I forget about Jackson and loosen my grip on him a little as I lean forward breathlessly to watch the fight. That is a big mistake. He lifts his head just a little and is able to peek out of the crack. He sees one of the alien's necks being snapped by the man and lets out a small scream. I immediately clamp my hand over his mouth, but I'm too late. An alien pauses mid attack and turns our direction.

My blood freezes. It slowly saunters over, its malicious eyes peering around our general area. I desperately look towards the man for help, but he is too busy in the attack to notice our predicament. If I call out for help, it will only end up in getting us killed for certain.

I lean forward and my breath tickles the boy's ear as I say a softly as possible while still being heard, "I'm going to create a diversion. When that happens, you crawl over to the corner of the room and do not make any noise, do you understand me? And no more stubborn hero antics this time little punk."

He nods mutely, his intense hazel eyes wide with unspoken terror. I peek into the crack again and see that the alien is closer to us. It is heading right for this desk, its gun poised to fire and its metallic face fiendishly twisted in a jerky grin. I nod once to Jackson and he nods back in acknowledgement. I close my eyes and take a deep breath.

Suddenly, I galvanize into action. I push Jackson away from me and whirl around, lying on my back and using my feet as levers, I push the desk with all my might.


It skids and hits the alien right in the face. Before it can get up and recover, I'm on top of it. I wrench its gun out of its grip and whirling it around, shoot the alien in the face. I freeze momentarily at the horrific sight. The alien seems to be a mixture of metal and wires, but also a white, lifeless, slimy flesh that was blown open when I shot him. But that moment I paused cost me. I feel a shooting pain in my leg. It is so intense that I almost wonder if this is all a dream. Then again, you're not supposed to feel things in dream, right?

I whip my head up and fire at the first moving thing I find. Luckily it isn't the man, but the alien that shot me in the leg first. Then the pain really sets in and I collapse to the ground with a cry of help to the man. I see him turn towards me and his face hardens at what he sees. There are only two left that he is battling. He whips out and arrow and buries it in one's neck without even bothering to load it into his bow, and then he uses a knife and slashes another one through what would be the heart on a human

He pauses a moment, looking about him as if for more targets, breathing heavily, but sees all the enemies are dead.

His gaze travels to me, and I can literally see his jaw clench. I thought people only did that in books.

In a moment, he is by my side and lifts me up gently, so as not to hurt my leg, but I can't stifle a cry anyways.

"I told you to stay out of sight. You could have gotten killed, or worse. Why didn't you listen?" he asks. His voice is cool, but I can sense the irritation behind the question.

I look him straight in the eye and answer, "Because I'm really stupid."

Humor, the ultimate stress reliever.

He snorted a little with a lopsided grin. I take that as a laugh. I don't look down in fear of what I'll see. Instead, I let this man handle it.

He props me against an upturned desk and stretches my leg out to get a better look. I watch him carefully as he examines it, but his face doesn't betray a single thing. He could be looking at the Sunday morning's paper for all the cool face he puts on.

I lean my head back and stare fuzzily at the horrible office ceiling. I had forgotten all about my knee. The adrenaline from the chase had probably eased the pain. I feel the man's fingers probe around and wince. To keep my mind occupied I try striking up a conversation.

"So what is your name?"

He glances at me momentarily before returning to my leg, "Hawkeye."

"Seriously, your name is Hawkeye?" I ask incredulously. Who has that kind of name?

He taps his temple, "Code name girl. Speaking of which, what is yours?"

I stiffen for a moment and then force myself to relax. Any normal person wouldn't have caught this little move, but Hawkeye did. I can tell from the odd glance he shoots me. I can't tell him my real name, so I invent one. "Stephanie Riles is my name. I don't have a code name," I can't help but add. This brings a ghost of a smile to his face.

He suddenly seems preoccupied. His hand goes to his ear and he presses it as if he had an ear piece in it. Then it hits me, he probably does. All spies do, in movies at least. I let out a groan as a fresh wave of pain hits my leg.

"Nat, are you busy? Helping wounded civilians in here, but I need backup. No, meet me rendezvous spot. You still with the Captain? Good."

I guess he is talking to someone over the com line. Probably other master assassins that are helping fight this extraterrestrial attack.

He turns to me with a pointed gaze, "And you, we need to get you and the boy to a safe area. You will wait there until I come and find you again, is that clear?" he asks sternly. I nod mutely with the sincere intention to do exactly the opposite of what he says. I don't trust anyone to 'come and get me' from anywhere. If he wants to take me to the hospital, well I can do that just fine by myself, and if he wants to kidnap me, well… I know how to hide extremely well.

I look around for the kid, and he is sitting right next to me. I don't know how I didn't hear him. His mop of brown hair is tangled in all directions and his freckled face is smeared with blood, but when I look at him his face lights up in a genuine smile. I can't help but smile back.

"Nasty cut you got you your leg," he said, pointing at it. My eyes follow his finger down to my leg. Big mistake.

I almost heave right then and there. I swear, the pain increases about double once I see what it looks like. Below my knee is a huge burn that stretches across my shin all the way down to the bone at the worst part. My calf seems to be better, but this burn would probably qualify as fourth degree burn instead of third.

I feel a hand on my shoulder and snap out of staring at my leg. I lift my eyes and find myself face to face with Hawkeye. His green-blue eyes intense with adrenaline and his hair slightly plastered with sweat.

I realize I must have almost fainted and that I clutched the nearest thing to me with a death grip, which happened to be his arm. I slowly pry my fingers off, revealing deep nail marks embedded in his skin. Glancing up apologetically, I mumble, "Sorry 'bout that."

He chuckled good naturedly, "No problem. Don't worry about your leg. It's just a burn. It'll hurt like hell for a couple weeks, but no permanent damage."

I leaned my head back with a groan and grasped my thigh in a pitiful attempt to ease the burning. "You and I have a very different connotation with the word 'worry.'"

He chuckled again. Suddenly, the world underneath me disappeared and strong arms clasped around my shoulders and under my knees. I might have screeched a bit and clutched him frantically as he picked me up.

"Hey kid, keep up," Hawkeye calls over his shoulder to Jackson. I peer over his shoulder as well just to make sure the kid is coming. Jackson stumbles to his feet and starts trotting after us to keep up with Hawkeye's long strides.

I feel uncomfortable with our proximity. It's not like I'm some chastity freak that doesn't get within a foot of a man, but I've only known this guy for a couple hours. Sure, he saved my life, but that gives me no more reason to trust him than another thug off the streets. Any rat can save my life, but they always do it for a price. Earning no more respect of trust from me than if they had let me die. Call me paranoid, but my theory has worked so far. I'm alive now, right? My point proven.

I stay very stiff in his arms, ready for any sudden movement. A small smirk twitches at his lips, though it isn't a smile, or a laugh, it's just an expression of wry sarcasm. This guy has a very annoying 'devil may care' attitude.

"Feeling comfortable," he asks sardonically.

"Beats walking," I try to sound as lighthearted as possible, but I know he cans see through my ruse. The fact that he knows about my trust issues makes me paranoid and the fact that he can see that I'm trying my hardest to cover them up makes me feel uncomfortable. A rather unpleasant position to be in the whole.

Luckily, he doesn't try to start up any more conversations and contents himself with indulging in his sarcastic remarks in his head. I'm not about to complain though.

He sets a swift pace and starts heading down the endless passages of stairs. He is going extremely fast, and I can only imagine how fast he could move if he wasn't burdened with an injured civilian and a toddler.

"Couldn't we take the elevator?" I remark as we are about half way down. All the jostling of the stair is making my leg burn like a white hot piece of metal is being shoved against my shin. I clench my teeth to stop myself from crying out and occasionally I have to squeeze my eyes shut to stop tears from welling up. I still feel uncomfortable, to say the least, but you get used to it after a while, and frankly, I would prefer this to walking.

"Sorry about that," he says as an apology. He actually sounds genuine. I'm sure he can see my ill attempts of covering my pain, and the apology is for the jostling. Of course, he doesn't answer the question since it was mostly rhetorical. No elevator would be safe and no sane person would use it when there is an extraterrestrial attack.

We run down the stairs, turn a corner, run down another flight, turn a corner, and so on and so forth. I am checking on Jackson anxiously, trying to make sure he's keeping up. He is staggering a little now, his tiny brow puckered in concentration. I know it is only a matter of time before he stumbles.

We are about three fourths of the way down when he finally trips over his own feet and goes head first down the stairs. Luckily, Hawkeye was already at the bottom of the flight, is Jackson doesn't take us down with him as well.

I squirm in Hawkeye's arms. "Let me down and help the kid. I can walk."

Hawkeye's face is grim, "No way in hell that's happening. You couldn't make it three steps."

"I can take care of myself," I snap. "The kid needs more help than me."

"I don't see the kid with the skin on his leg practically melted off. He can take a few bruises, isn't that right kid?"

Jackson stands shakily up, "Yeah, I'm fine. Just quit calling me kid. My name is Jackson."

I feel a smile twitch at my lips despite myself. So we keep going. Finally, we reach the bottom. Hawkeye sprints through the lobby of the building (Jackson at his heels) and bursts out into the war ravaged street. The fight is still hot down here. Luckily, there are no aliens picking on us presently. I look over Hawkeye's shoulder and see one hassling some civilians. My blood boils.

"Hawkeye, you have to help them!" I shout over the noise. He meets me in the eye and his face is grimly cool. It sends shudders down my spine.

"I can't save everyone, Stephanie. Sometimes you have to choose."

My eyes fill with hopeless tears. I want to ask him why he picked me. I want to ask him not to save me and help people who might actually be worth his trouble, but I can't open my mouth. I gaze over his shoulder, my vision clouded with tears.

The alien raises a gun to a girl about my age. She is fighting. She is fighting to stay alive so hard. Her wild eyes raise at the same time as the gun and she sees her doom right in front her. She freezes and knows it's the end. Her eyes close and suddenly, her face goes extremely calm. I can see her courage. She opens her eyes and meets mine. My hand flies to my mouth as I cover it in horror. We share a small moment right there. A link forms itself without consent. I feel like this girl is my sister.

I shake my head in horror. She just nods her head resolutely. She is trying to communicate with me. She is saying things that words cannot express. Then she closes her eyes and the shot is fired. It ends.

I let out a strangled sob and burry my face in Hawkeye's chest, trying to block out the image. But I know what comes next. Her body will slump, lifeless, to the ground. Her blood will spread across the pavement like a blanket and her dull eyes will be glazed over in death, but I can't accept it.

She deserved to live. She deserved it so much more than me.

"You should've saved her. She deserved it more than me," I sob out loud into Hawkeye's chest. "I don't deserve it. I don't—"

I break off, unable to continue as I huddle in his arms, feeling something that makes me sob even more. Vulnerable.

I honestly don't know what happens from then on. I try to shut out the world as I bury my face in the hard armor of Hawkeye's vest, my hot tears making the rough polyester weave hot and damp. I don't care.

Suddenly, Hawkeye sets me down. I gasp in pain and clutch at my leg, but his hand catches my wrist.

"Don't touch it, that'll make it worse. I won't bandage it yet. It should breathe. I'll be back as soon as I can and you are going to stay here," he emphasizes the last part. He doesn't wait for conformation and sprints off to save the world. I look to where he has left us (Jackson is still with us. How he kept up with Hawkeye I have no idea). We are in a back alley like the ones I was hiding in at the beginning of the attack. Hawkeye tucked us behind a dumpster and next to a chain link fence. I realize that we are in such a position that if anyone walked by they wouldn't see us if we kept completely still. It is a little freaky to think that he can find such a place.

All I want to do right now is curl up in a ball and sob, never moving. But this guy will be back and when he comes I need to be long gone.

"Jackson, are you ok?" I croak. He nods, his eye brimming with tears. I ruffle his hair affectionately. "Don't worry about it kid, we'll be fine."

"I'm not worried about me. I saw a woman. She was old. She was just standing there, praying to God to save her, and he didn't. The alien shot fire out of its stick and she collapsed and never moved again. Will she go to heaven and meet God? Why didn't he save her?" Jackson sobbed brokenly through a flood of tears that appeared through his pitiful defense against them. I felt the searing pain in my chest that was always so familiar, but this time it felt so much more vivid than before. Before when it was… NO! I won't let myself go there! Not now at least.

I pull the kid to me and nestle him under my arm. "Hey, it's ok. God has his own plans, and although we might not understand them they are there for a reason. It's like a painting. We only see a miniscule part of it, and that pattern may not make any sense, but when God's painting is done than we see how our little part fit into his big masterpiece. That woman didn't die needlessly." I don't know that I'm so much talking to Jackson and about the old woman as much as I'm talking to myself and about the young woman. Though these words cause Jackson to perk up a little, they fall dead on my ears. They are the same words I have been telling myself desperately for years, all the while hoping that I'll find some peace in them, but only becoming more and more tormented.

I snap myself out of it. Get yourself together Keira, I mentally berate myself. "Ok Jackson, we need to get moving."

"But Hawkeye said we need to wait until he gets back," Jackson complained with a whine in his voice.

"I know what Hawkeye said, but plans change. We need to get out of here and now," I reply firmly.

Jackson narrows his eyes and looks at me shrewdly. "You don't trust him," he states matter-of-factly.

I shrug, "That might be an understatement."

"But why? He saved our lives," Jackson tries to reason.

I can feel my face harden. "Kid, people do a lot of things for a lot of reasons. Hawkeye might have saved our lives out of the goodness of his heart, but then again not. Better not to find out than stick around for something bad to happen. If he really wants to help than he would be happy to know that you and I made it to a hospital and leave it at that."

Jackson pouts, but doesn't say any more. Slowly and painfully, I pull myself up. Leaning on Jackson, we make our way out of the alley. Things seem to have died down quite a bit, or maybe the fighting is somewhere else. I recognize the street we are on and lead Jackson towards the nearest hospital. It takes an effort that is beyond belief (and I won't describe it to you because you would get bored very quickly) to make it all the way there, but we do. I am in terrible shape though.

Finally we drag ourselves up to the hospital doors and into the lobby. My world is reeling as I try to croak out some words for help, but instead I just keel over, my vision swimming. Jackson is yelling something and I see paramedics run up through my distorted and hazy vision. That is all I see before I completely black out.