Origins Story #2: Part 4
The square is bustling in the early fall morning. Tourists in generous supply, all obvious to the commuting natives as they snap their photos and stand in awe of the bright, gargantuan jumbotrons that pepper the surrounding infrastructure. The crisp chill in the air streams in through the gaps of my blue peacoat as I continue toward The Times headquarters. Coming up onto a news stand, I indulge my curiosity and flip through the pages of a newspaper. All evidence of my so-called heroic deeds now swept away like it had never happened in the first place many weeks ago. Now too easily replaced with the newest fashions and an article about the recent goings on in the GVRNMNT tech department. Newly discovered healing techniques, outfitting and new toys for this year’s new SPCTER recruits to seriously injure themselves with.
My hands smooth the paper back into its correct shape, but before I can put it back down I suddenly hear a large crash coming down onto the pavement behind me, the source seeming to have hurled itself seemingly from nowhere. My head whirls around to find him about 5 feet away, the area of pavement where he had made impact now crumpled and cracked.
“Good morning.” Huntsman says, smiling cheerfully like we’re meeting to talk about the monthly budget.
“What are you doing out here?” I whisper sharply. A flame of embarrassment cuts through me as I turn around, slamming the paper back down start walking briskly away. He side-steps along with me, effortlessly keeping pace, yet not paying attention to what is ahead of us.
“It’s been three weeks. I’m just checking in.” He grins again, his eyes on me. For every person he collides with on the street, he takes a second to apologize, adding to the body count of people who have realized just who he is.
I tear some sunglasses out of my handbag and slam them onto my face as I quicken my steps. Noticing the growing number of phones pointed at us, or more accurately at him.
“I assume by checking in you mean following me.” I hiss, shielding my face from the growing crowd pursuing us.
“Come on, Claire. Work with me here.” He says, shooting me an earnest smile while he continues on along next to me.
My stomach tightens when I think back to that night. When I remember what he said to me. All of these rumours about him, spit like venom from the tabloids or gifted-hate protestors, telling me not believe the kindness in his words.
Everyone has always known that Huntsman isn’t actually one of them. But as an Agent, he may as well be. I start to wonder if he really is the gentle person he has been to me, and not the foul blood-thirsty womanizer he’s been made out to be by the media.
Looking for a solution, I spot the outcrop of a nearby corner building garbage tunnel. I remember seeing and studying this building and the outcrop from the window at my desk. It being our only chance at losing the crowd, I grab hold of Huntsman’s arm and haul the two of us around the corner and straight into the long, dimly-lit tunnel. His body smashes into mine and I press myself up against his chest and peer ahead to watch the crowd pass, his black and red suit working to our advantage like camouflage. Once I see no sign of anyone else, I let out a sigh of relief and tear my body away from his. He laughs, removing my sunglasses with his left hand.
“Hey, if you wanted to get me alone, all you had to do was ask.” He says, with a sly grin.
A hot wash of irritation passes over me as I shake him off and punch him in the chest. The hit lands, but immediately ricochets so much that it sends me backwards, the impact splitting open two of my knuckles.
“Shut up.” I say through gritted teeth as I cover my knuckles and try to tolerate the pain in silence in front of him.
“So, what? What is it that was worth almost getting us trampled?” I demand, clutching my stinging knuckles.
“You won’t talk to me.” He answers, looking at me with big puppy dog eyes.
“Can you blame me?!” I ask, throwing a rigid hand out and gesturing to the street.
Huntsman takes my injured hand and observes it, all the while throwing apologetic glances up at me
“I also wanted to tell you that I spoke to the beating victim before they discharged him.”
“You did?” I say, my anger evaporating. “How is he?”
“He’s got a broken rib and a couple of bruises but he’ll be fine.” He says, eyes down, turning my hand over in his.
“If I had gotten there sooner-” I trail off, casting my face away from him and fixating on the smooth concrete ground.
“Hey,” Huntsman pulls me toward him and reverts his glove away, wrapping two warm fingers under my chin and forcing my eyes back on his. “He was lucky you were there at all.” He says, an air or annoyance present in it for the first time. “If it were up to me you wouldn’t have been there in the first place.”
I concede and he smooths his bare hand atop my damaged knuckles, pressing my hand between both of his. “Now… let’s get you fixed up too.”
Suddenly a warmth begins to grow in his palm, warm, like stepping into a warm bath. The temperature raises higher and higher, hot enough to make me want to pull away. So hot I feel like if I don’t, I’ll have first degree burns. That’s when it stops, and Huntsman slowly slides his hand away to expose my knuckles now fully healed.
“I thought you weren’t g-“
“I’m not. I just picked up some tricks from a buddy of mine in the Marine Corps.”
Huntsman was a special exception to the other agents. The public knew that he was never born with gifts like the rest. But I didn’t know that he was able.
Gifted births are widely common these days after our evolution has fine tuned the process. Their gifts are hard to control in youth and thus are incredibly difficult to keep hidden. It started with Olympians, soldiers, doctors. People that were more mentally and physiologically advanced. As their DNA carried down through the ages, the first gifted-citizen was born.
But being gifted and able are two drastically different things. Gifteds are strong. They hone their only gift until they can use it to the best of their ability. Ables are weak, but can be taught any known gift in small doses. Roughly 40% of our world’s population are gifted. But only 0.2% of our population are able. And Huntsman happens to be one of them.
“Thanks,” I mutter, stretching and bending my fingers in and out to examine my healed knuckles.
He smiles and I watch the nano-fragments of his gloves weave themselves back onto his hands. as he takes something out of one of the pockets in his suit.
“Now, here.” He says, offering me a black business card. The top is blank of any information. “Take this.”
I study it dubiously before he takes one of my hands and places the card on my palm, curling my fingers around ir. I spin it around around to find only a phone number on the other side printed in shiny silver foil.
If you don’t mind,” He gives me a bargaining grin, then stuffs my hand with the card in my jacket pocket. “give a poor guy some peace of mind, wouldja?”
I indulge him with a chuff of laughter and try to push past him, considering these antics must be making me seriously late for work. But as I do, he stops me, gets in close and gently kisses me on the cheek. The warmth on my cold skin send dull shivers down my back.
As soon as he pulls away, he’s gone.