Authors: Jack Parker
"I don't have any money," she responded harshly, not sounding afraid at all. Leon quirked an eyebrow at her statement. There was something familiar about that woman.
I know that voice.
He began to slowly walk back over, his curiosity getting the best of him. He had to know if he was right, and if he was, those men were going to regret their course of action.
Ray cautiously took a step back from the men around her. She didn't need to get in trouble right now. She wouldn't usually be so vigilant, but with her left arm in a sling, she was at a serious disadvantage. If all five were to try and take her on, she would lose, hands down. She was cocky, not stupid. However, that said nothing of her arrogance.
"Come on girl," coaxed another one. "Just give us your money, and you're free to go. How hard is that?"
"I said I don't have any," she told them, showing that she wasn't afraid. "Now get out of my way." As her egoistic attitude took hold of her, she crossed the line of being cocky and being ignorant. She tried to walk through the group of men, but one grabbed her shoulder, her
shoulder. She cringed as pain surged through the recently reconnected joint, and she cried out when he shoved her to the ground, causing her to partially fall on her left arm. She just laid there for a moment, doing her best to override the sensation spreading through her body. Eventually, she began to try and get back up.
"You should've listened, woman," stated one of the men as he smirked sadistically at her. Ray began to realize how stupid her actions had been. Hundreds of thoughts were running through her head. However, most were questions about what was going to happen to her. Not a single one was a solution to her problem.
One of the men was about to step forward, but a tapping on his shoulder drew his attention elsewhere. As he began turning to see who or what it was, a fist connected with the side of his face, and Leon entered the circle of men. The one he had punched fell to the ground, unconscious. This quickly drew the attention of the other four.
Ray was now leaning against her good arm, relying on her elbow to keep her up. She was staring at Leon as he drew the men's attention away from her. She was a little shocked, but at the same time she couldn't help but feel relieved. One thing was for sure though. She was going to owe him for this.
"Who're you?" asked one of the men, his voice a little uneven. After all, it wasn't everyday your leader was decked by a stranger. Leon just kept a straight face with an uninterested glare in his eyes.
"It's not a fair fight," he told the man simply. "It's a shame you have to pick on an injured girl just to make a little cash." One of the men tried to punch him, but he moved enough to dodge. Leon then kneed the man in the stomach. He fell to the ground like his leader.
The other men began to back up, moving carefully away from their downed friends. Leon just stared at them, a calm look upon his face. His hands were now in his pockets. He was defenseless. However, the men didn't appear to want to fight anymore. Not one of them particularly liked getting hit.
"If we're done here," began Leon, "then take these two and leave." The men quickly obeyed, not wanting a senseless fight like their two friends. Money wasn't worth going through pain. They grabbed their two unconscious comrades and ran.
Leon watched them scurry away and sighed to himself. He wasn't sure just what had made him decide to get involved. However, he wouldn't have been able to just stand by and watch as they harassed a woman, even if that said girl was a problem to begin with. He slowly turned towards Ray, who was beginning to get to her feet. She was having a few problems though.
"Here," said Leon, offering her his hand. She didn't say anything to him at first. She was just staring at his outstretched hand, almost as if she was debating on whether to take it or not. Her eyes quickly narrowed, and she turned away from him.
"I don't need help," she whispered arrogantly. He glared at her in annoyance as she refused to take his hand. Then again, he should have been expecting a reaction like that. He had already learned once before that she wasn't too fond of accepting help.
"What's your problem?" he asked her a bit harshly.
"I don't need your help nor do I want it!" she lied. She really had been afraid a few moments ago. In the back of her mind, she had been praying that someone would help her. When Leon had appeared, she had been thanking God for his interjection. However, she would never admit it. Her pride was too strong.
"Look Ray, it's not like I want a 'thank you' or anything," he told her calmly. "I just wish you'd be a little more civil towards me."
"I could've handled it," she told him, still sitting on the ground. Leon was starting to get frustrated now, and he quickly lost control of his temper. Talking to Ray often had that kind of effect on people.
"How stupid are you?!" he shouted at her, drawing her full attention. "What if they hadn't been after your money, Ray? What if they had wanted
? What would you've done if they had tried to…to…" Ray's eyes widened slightly as she saw the worry wash through Leon's dark lavender irises. He still had his hand out; his offer to help her up still stood. Ray reached out and took his hand, surprising him a little.
"Well?" she asked him when he made no gesture to help her. "Are you gonna help me up or not?" Leon didn't say anything as he pulled her to her feet. She began to dust off her clothing, straightening her shirt in the process. She then brushed a hand through her hair, making sure each lock was in its proper place. She smiled brightly when she was done.
Since it was obvious that this incident was over, Leon turned around and began to walk away, his hands in his pockets. Ray just watched him for a while, struggling through an inner battle. She owed him, and she knew what he wanted from her. However, saying it went against her pride.
"Hey Leon!" she called out, finally making up her mind. He stopped and glanced back at her. "Thanks." A smile crossed his face as he once again started walking away. "Hey Leon!" He stopped for the second time and turned to her once more. She had her head down, looking at the ground as if it was the most interesting thing in the world.
"What is it?" he asked her.
"Could I maybe follow you?" she asked him meekly, as if she was embarrassed at her own request. Leon just gave her a warm smile. He was kind of happy she had asked. He really didn't want to go about his day alone like this.
"If you want to," he told her as he began walking away again. Ray ran to catch up with him, easily falling into his pace. She was happy to hear that he didn't mind her tagging along. She had been worried that he would say no. After all of the bad things that had happened to her in Torran, the last thing she wanted was to be alone right now.
Ray and Leon were sitting on a bench near one of the small cafés in the middle of the city. They both had sandwiches, but Leon was already done with his. Only its plastic wrapper remained. He was now just sitting patiently, waiting for Ray to finish.
"I can't believe you were serious about not having any money," he told her. When she had told those men that she was broke, he had assumed it was a lie. She just shrugged in response to him and took another bite of her sandwich. Leon had ended up buying her lunch since she had honestly forgotten her wallet at home.
They sat in silence for a while longer, not having anything to really talk about. Neither one was good at striking up a conversation, especially since they didn't really know each other. They were still partial strangers. Leon was currently just glancing at Ray out of the corner of his eye.
"Hey Ray," he began, catching her attention. "I saw the battle tournament." Ray smiled brightly at the mention of the tournament, despite the outcome it had had for her.
"That was so much fun," she told him. "Until those guys showed up, that is." Leon leaned back on the bench, stretching his arms a bit. Now that he had succeeded in starting a conversation, he was determined to keep it going. That wouldn't be hard. He had a few questions for her.
"I thought you said you didn't have anyone on your team," he said, changing the subject just a bit.
"I don't," she said as she finished her sandwich.
"Then what about those two people, that girl and Brian?" Ray glanced at him, slightly confused.
"Abby and Brian?" she questioned curiously. Sure, they were really close friends and fellow knights, but they weren't necessarily teammates. She always fought her battles alone.
"Yeah," he said. "Isn't Brian your…your boyfriend or something?" Ray couldn't help but laugh a bit at the question. Perhaps such a behavior was slightly rude, but that comment really had been awkward to her. "What's so funny?"
"Brian? My boyfriend? He's a good eight years older than I am," she told him with a smile. "He and Abby are just my friends, nothing more."
"So they're not your teammates?"
"Nope. I already told you. I'm on a team of my own." Her expression fell just slightly as she turned away from him, picking the concrete sidewalk to stare at. She was just swinging her legs back and forth a bit, a habit that could easily give away her disposition if someone were to watch for long enough. "I fight better alone than working with someone."
"But doesn't it get a little boring?"
"No," she answered rather quickly. Leon just smiled, knowing full well that she was probably lying. She did that rather often. She was most likely too proud to admit something like that. He decided to leave the subject alone for now. However, this brought forth a small problem. Once again, there wasn't much to talk about.
Ray stood up and stretched her still good arm, slinging her bag over her shoulder. It was a smaller bag, smaller than even her backpack. However, with the use of only one arm, this was as good as it was going to get. Too much weight would slow her down. She turned away from Leon and began to head down the street. She was going to continue with her day whether or not he decided to come along. She didn't care either way right now.
"Where are you going?" he asked her, still not moving from his place on the bench. She stopped and turned to him.
"I'm gonna look around," she answered. "This city is so huge. I don't usually have the time to just go for a walk." She smiled as he stood up from the bench, a sigh escaping his lips. This obviously meant that he would be tagging along for a while longer.
"Don't except me to buy you anything," he told her as he shoved his hands in his pockets and walked over. "It's bad enough you made me buy you lunch." Ray just gave him an impish smile as she began to walk away, and of course, Leon followed after her.
They had been walking for quite some time now, passing restaurants and shops of all kinds. Ray was being just a bit sour right now since for the first time in a long time, she hadn't gotten her way. Leon had been serious about not buying anything. No matter how much she hinted, plotted, or just out right begged, he wouldn't give in.
They were walking side by side as they made their way down the street. Neither one said anything as they took in the sights of the city. There wasn't really much to say. They had run out of conversational items about an hour ago. That hour had been spent either walking in silence or arguing in a store.
They turned the corner, passing a few men who were leaning against the wall of a building. They seemed just a bit out of place standing there, and this quickly drew Ray's attention. She glanced at them, noticing that they were wearing black, military styled uniforms. Their eyes were following her as she and Leon passed by. That wasn't something that tended to bode well.
After the two of them had walked completely past the men, she continued to watch out of the corner of her eye. The men were now following at a distance, doing their best to look unsuspicious. To most they probably did, but she was far too used to this not to know their intentions. A silent curse left her lips, an annoyed look crossing her face.
How'd they know I'd be here? My luck has been so bad lately. Damn you, Ramirez!
Ray returned her attention to the sidewalk, trying to look as casual as possible as she thought through the situation. There were so many people out that the men wouldn't risk attacking her so openly. She guessed that the other reason they hadn't ambushed her yet was because she was walking with Leon. Either way, it was good news for her. Unfortunately, this also put him in danger. If the men were to attack, he'd be caught up in her battle.
"Hey Leon," Ray whispered, finally deciding on a course of action. She waited until she was sure she had his attention before continuing. "Don't look, but we're being followed." He quirked an eyebrow, and like every curious person would, he began to look back. "I said don't!" she hissed at him, stopping his head from moving.
"How many?" he whispered to her.
"I saw about ten or so."
"Why are they following us?"
"I don't know," she lied as she began thinking of a way out. Her Geno was near the entrance of the city, hidden under the desert sands. If she could just reach it, then there'd be no problem. No one stood a chance against her when she was piloting. One or two arms didn't make a difference at all, or at least she was hoping it wouldn't.
Ray stopped worrying for a moment and looked ahead, hoping to find something that could help them in their escape. She quickly noticed that they were approaching a corner. A sly smile crossed her face as a plan formed in her head. It was simple, but it was definitely worth trying.