The sun was rising, so I walked toward the lake, thinking that such a sight as the sun over the water would be relaxing. I didn’t understand why I felt so awake, but I was attributing it mostly to the bizarre array of information thrown at me. The day Aaliyah revealed to me that she was an assassin, I was horrified by the idea. Finding out that she could shapechange and went on many dates with me over the past couple weeks was no less horrifying, albeit in a slightly different way. She was only twelve. How did such a strange plan ever get in her head? Between her murderous job and blazing intellect, not to forget a mental internet connection, I supposed she was exposed to a great many things beyond her years. Nonetheless, I felt there was something inherently wrong with a girl losing her childhood so quickly. Yet that might explain why she acted so very childlike at times. Perhaps she enjoyed playing games so very much because her youth was, in a way, stolen from her when she was made into a cyborg. Then again, I generally enjoyed her games immensely, so I couldn’t really call them childish without admitting myself to act like a child. I preferred thinking myself to be somewhat mature.
Would a mature person try avoiding what was really bothering me? Sure, the revelations about Aaliyah weren’t an enjoyable surprise, but if I was to be honest, the revelations about myself were more disturbing. How many people have I unintentionally influenced throughout my life? The only girl who was apparently safe from me was the same one who had manipulated me over the past few months. As much as I’d like to say that my accidental influence was a lesser evil than her intentional machinations, I wasn’t entirely sure that was the case. Even if Aaliyah was right and I truly didn’t strip away free will, I still altered people’s view of me, and who could say how much that altered their lives. I felt like like I should go to every person I ever met and apologize, but there was no reasonable way to do it. I wasn’t about to prove the existence of magic to anyone, not knowing that such knowledge could put them at risk. What was I going to do? Ignore gunshots? Wait. Gunshots? I jumped up against the nearby building, only then realizing I heard the sound of fighting nearby. A gun fired again, and I peeked around the corner.
There was a very bloody girl with a metal trash can lid about to hit a guy over the head. Spotting a second guy on the ground behind her lifting a gun, I called “Look out!”, but I was too late. The girl was shot through her back, and blood spurted out on the man she would’ve hit. I knocked the gun to the side with a spell, and hit the two conscious men over the head with another. They should survive it easily. Three others were unmoving on the ground already. As I approached the girl, I wondered at how she was still standing. There was so much blood on her, and so many holes through her hoodie. She looked bewilderedly at the man who had dropped in front of her for a moment before noticing me. “Let’s get you to a hospital.” I told her. She shook her head, and then moved her hands in front of her as she said, “We need to tie these guys up for the cops.” I wasn’t sure what to say in response, especially when she pulled duct tape out of her hoodie and seriously started taping the nearest guy’s wrists together. “You know you could bleed to death, right?” I asked, taking note of how much blood was already on the ground in the area. How was she standing?
The strange girl ignored me, and started taping the man’s ankles together. The alley in which we stood was lit by a single light above an open doorway, next to a broken camera. There were several other guns on the ground as well as a large, bloody knife. I created a spell to move all the weapons away from the men and under the black van which blocked the alley, not wanting my fingerprints on any of them. The girl was wearing red gloves, and I hoped the red wasn’t from her blood. As I watched her, I wondered how many times this girl had bound people with tape, since she seemed pretty quick at it. No response. “So what happened here? Why were you fighting these men?” I asked. Again she didn’t respond, so I tried once more. Still nothing. After binding the last man, the girl grabbed a couple duffel bags from near the open doorway and tossed them inside, shutting it afterward. Turning to me, she asked “Care to go on a date?” Was she insane? I texted Mila to come get me. “My car’s coming. I’ll get you to the hospital, okay?” I told her. She frowned at me, and all I could do was worry about the pallor of her skin. She was incredibly white, like all color had seeped out of her.
“So, uh… I don’t really need a hospital. I’ll take you up for some coffee if I can find a place to clean up first. My name’s Portentia Zhidkova.” she told me, taking off her glove and holding out her hand. There was residual energy covering her, so I didn’t want to touch her, worrying about inadvertently making her like me. “My name is James. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to accidentally affect you with magic,” I said as I glanced back to look for Mila. Portentia grabbed my face and turned it to her. “I can’t read your lips when you’re not looking at me.” she explained. “Oh.” I mouthed. Her hand motions were sign language. “Sorry. I didn’t realize you were deaf.” I confided. She was smiling, obviously not offended. Was my magic already doing its work? “Look I ummm.. well.. I have this magic that might be causing you to like me. I can’t help it, but it’s more potent when you touch me due to the energy on your skin.” I dumbly explained. “Sounds handy. I bet that really helps you keep a girlfriend. You wouldn’t have anything that can get blood out of my shirt, do you?” she asked. I hadn’t thought of it till she mentioned it, but I probably could help her if I acted swiftly.
“If we hurry to the lake, I can.” I told her. She shrugged and told me to lead the way. I started jogging, and Portentia easily kept pace, despite her injuries. Poor Mila was probably wondering if I was playing a game with her. Even jogging, Mila caught us before we got to the lake. “Whoa. Where’s the driver!?” asked Portentia. “Oh. Yeah. Portentia, meet Mila, my car.” I told her. “Master, is all that blood fresh? She’ll stain my seats,” said Mila when I opened the door. “I’ll clean you. Don’t worry.” I told her, as I motioned for Portentia to step inside. “Wow… I really need your toys. Are you some sort of secret agent? A superhero like me? Who are you?” inquired Portentia. “Wait. Superhero? What are you talking about?” I asked. “Well, you have this crazy car, and can use magic. That sounds pretty super to me,” she said. “Umm… oh. I never really thought of it like that before. I’m honestly just a kid whose business is going fairly well.” I claimed. Laughing, she replied “Fairly well? This car had to cost a fortune. I’m totally looking for a sidekick if you’re interested.” I was glad that Mila could drive, so I could more easily talk toward Portentia, but I couldn’t believe this conversation.
“How are you able to take a bullet without needing a hospital?” I inquired. She shrugged and said, “I have superpowers. That’s why I decided to become a superhero.” I was impressed that the girl hadn’t passed out yet. “Are you some type of therianthrope? Werewolf of werelion perhaps?” I asked nervously. There truly was something strange about her, beyond how white her hair was. Even her eyelashes were white where there wasn’t blood. “You’re an albino?” I half-asked, half-stated. “Nope. No cool shapechanging. Not the sharpest tool in the shed, are we.” she replied mirthfully. I was probably blushing, but I couldn’t help being surprised. I never met someone who was deaf or albino, so someone who was both was doubly new for me. Mila parked on the street when we got close to the lake. I asked Portentia to step out of the car for a second. She was such a mess. Her hair was matted down with drying blood. There was blood on both arms, all over her clothing, and sticking to her legs. The sharp contrast of the blood red and the white of her skin made me shiver inside. No normal person could survive with so much blood loss. The men that did this hardly looked injured in comparison, just battered and bruised a bit.
I carefully pulled water over to us, cleansing it of impurities as the twins taught me. Portentia poked the floating ball of water as it approached her, and I carefully casted various spells to pull the blood into the water, purify the water, and repeat. I slowly walked around her as I worked. There were so many holes in her clothing from the fight, but I didn’t see any wounds or scarring as I cleaned. Her skin was, for lack of a better word, perfect, an unblemished white canvas that was losing its paint. I was feeling more thankful for the lessons on manipulating blood than I had been previously. I looked her over again to make sure I hadn’t missed anything and noticed a faint pink hue on her cheeks. I truly wasn’t leering, just trying to be thorough. “Oh, master, I was so worried. Blood stains would be quite the disfigurement for me. Can you imagine what the princess would say if she saw me in such a state?” commented Mila as I worked. Knowing Aaliyah wasn’t bothered by blood, anything she said would probably be some sort of bad joke. “If you have a spell to mend clothes, you’ll make the best sidekick ever.” added Portentia as I finished removing the blood on Mila’s seats.
“Sorry, but I don’t know any way to do that with magic.” I told her as I looked down into her eyes. They were an unbelievably light shade of blue, as if they barely had color at all. “That’s too bad. I’ll still take you on if you want.” she replied. “Umm… sorry. I don’t really want to abandon my employees. So what was that about in the alley?” I asked. “I told you. I’m a superhero. Those guys were robbing a bank, so I stopped them.” she claimed. “How did you know about the robbery?” I asked. There really wasn’t anymore blood appearing that I could see. How did she heal so quickly? “Well, I was sorta chillaxing in the alley. I’m new to the area, and don’t have a place to stay yet,” she said. “Most people go for hotels.” I commented. Portentia then told me “I tend to get by day-to-day, so I don’t really have the cash for a hotel. Plus, they tend to want credit cards. I don’t have those either.” I felt sorry for the girl. “Don’t worry about me. I don’t really need food and don’t sleep.” she claimed. My thoughts must have been showing on my face. I knew inviting a stranger home was crazy, but so was everything else today. “Care to stay with me for a while?” I asked, gesturing to Mila’s open door. Portentia blinked and looked surprised. “If you’re sure you have room… I’ll try to stay out of the way.” she replied. This girl was in for a shock.