Old Friends, New FoesMature

There was something unsettling about the city at night sometimes. There was this dead feel to it - the electric lights humming, the sounds of cars and other vehicles, the stone buildings staring without eyes - that sent chills up my spine. But with the cloak of night, I could wander freely without the worry of human eyes falling upon me. I was becoming stronger, faster and larger. I could run and jump farther than ever before.

I stopped criminals in their tracks. I didn't know what a superhero was, but I was about to find out.

***

I was creeping down an alley, looking for goodies in the trash cans when someone yanked on my tail. I whipped around, snarling. A young girl stood there, bright red curls falling on her shoulders, a lollipop dangling from her mouth.

I was taken aback. She wasn't afraid.

"Hi," She murmured.

"Ciera? CIERA?!" Someone screamed, their voice echoing back from the dead-end behind me. I picked the child up, my teeth snagging on the collar of her dress.

She giggled as I swung her back and forth for a moment before trotting towards the sound of the panicked woman's voice.

The woman was standing in the entrance to the alleyway, talking rapidly on a cell phone, "I don't know, she just disappeared, I have no idea where she -" The woman paused as she caught sight of me.

"Dear god," She breathed.

"Hi mommy!" The little girl, Ciera, squealed, waving her hand in the woman's general direction.

I set her down, gently, on the pavement. She toddled towards her mother. The woman swept her up into her arms. Her dark green eyes locked with mine.

"Thank you,"

I nodded deeply and returned to the safety of the shadows in the alley.

***

After that, rumors began to spread through the city. They linked me to the jewelry store incident and the disaster at the laboratory.

Wherever I roamed, there was always at least one curious citizen of New York that followed. But the next night, I was followed by someone....someone not entirely human.

I was stalking a stray cat, hoping for a quick meal. I smelled an opponent behind me. All of my intelligence faded away as my instincts took over my mind. I slid my claws out as slowly as possible so that they made no noise as the tips raked the concrete.

"At ease soldier," A familiar voice told me, the deep undertones ringing in my ears.

I slowly turned around, rising to my hind feet. A dark blue figure stood in shadow before me, a dark cloak wrapped around him, a hood pulled over his head.

"Who...who are you?" I murmured.

"You know who I am, Angela,"

I was shocked at this revelation. The mysterious, though familiar, stranger knew my true name. I was almost scared to say the name which rested at the tip of my tongue.

"Nightmare?"

"Promise you won't be frightened," He blurted out, biting his lower lip after the words had fled. I couldn't see half of his face beneath the hood.

"Afraid of what?"

Nightmare lifted his hood. His face was covered in scars. I could barely recognize him. I noticed his left eye was milky white - blind.

"What...?"

He shook his head sadly, "This world is full of dangers, my love"

I sucked in my breath sharply. Love? He loved me? But our ages were so different! He was so much older than me. I had thought of him as my teacher for so long that to think that he fancied me was beyond my comprehension. We were animals, not humans - we mated for offspring not for the sake of affection. Love did not exist in our world.

But this was not our world. This land and its rules belonged to mankind.

"You are surprised," Nightmare noted, his ears flicking away a fly which buzzed there.

"No. I am in a state of shock," I retorted.

He looked down. My heart ached. His face was a mask of grief.

"Why have you come?" I growled. I was covering up my own sorrow with rage.

Nightmare looked up to meet my gaze, "I have a message for you,"

I flicked my tail irritably, a signal for him to get on with it and to leave me in peace.

"He lives,"

That was all I needed to hear. My suspicions were correct - my father had survived the crash.

The End

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