• "Okay, no. He's not coming with me," Cori said flatly, crossing her pale arms and narrowing her fiery red eyes. She waited until the man she was talking to paused in his paperwork and looked up at her before continuing. "I don't want some newbie tagging along with me today--especially a blind one! I got two more gifted to bring in before I hold the top spot for my age group, and, quite frankly, he'll just slow me down."

    The man, Damon, drew in a breath and gazed down at his paperwork. The office was quiet, except for the young girl's complaints and the ticking clock. "Well he's got to go along with someone," he stated as he scribbled down his signature. "And, really Miss Woods, I'd prefer if it was one of the best." He raised his eyebrows and looked at her again.

    A chill ran down her spine; one of his eyes bore a nasty scar and, even after a good eight years, she's never been able to adjust to it. She didn't even know the story behind it, not that she had bothered to ask. She found herself a little afraid to. Ignoring it though, she dropped her clenched fists to her sides and started to saying something, but was promptly cut off after sputtering out, "But--"

    "No buts. I'm the boss and I'm ordering you to have Hunter tag along. He's going to be a good addition to the team," Damon said, but the sarcastic and ironic tone in his voice would later make Cori wonder what it really was that he meant.

    The fourteen year old let out an annoyed "huff" and promptly turned on her heel. "Yeah, we'll see about that!" she grumbled under her breath as she literary stomped out of the office.


    The blind boy was sitting solemnly by the main entrance of the government building when Cori stepped outside. She looked him up and down, wondering if he was deaf too. It wasn't like doors were totally quiet when pushed open--especially when they're pushed open by a teenage girl full of angst.

    As she waited to be acknowledged, she was noting his appearance in case the helpless waste-of-space got lost in the big city: Sandy brown hair that fell to his ears, pale blue eyes, worn out and plain clothes, and a chain necklace. That has to go, she mentally noted with a roll of her eyes. She also noted that he was still ignoring her.

    "Hey, you. Blob-boy. You're Shaun Hunter, aren't you?" she questioned, placing a hand on her hip.

    He blinked and straightened up as he turned his head in her general direction. "Unfortunately," he answered with a humorless chuckle. "And by the annoying, demanding voice you're using, you must be Cori Woods, right?" He stood up, showing that his height was shy just a few inches of six feet.

    "Annoying? Oh, that's real mature, Hunter."

    "I'm just repeating what Damon said," he teased, though he stumbled over the man's name a little bit when his jaw clenched.

    She assumed the contempt in his voice was because Damon stuck them together--she hated it too. "Okay, whatever," she said, shaking her head as she looked out at the busy city. She then looked back to Shaun. "Got everything you need? Gun, handcuffs--"

    "Yeah, like they'd give a blind guy a gun," he interrupted with another laugh.

    Cori frowned. "If you can't shoot a gun, why the hell are you here? You can't be that damn good," she accused.

    He just gave a grin and shrugged. "We'll see. Or, uh, you will," he corrected.

    Ugh, a comedian, she thought. She glared at him for a few moments, then let out a deep breath. "Well, fine. But if you fall behind, you fall behind. You either keep up or you don't. And if you don't, then that's too bad, understand?"

    "Yup, I understand," he assured, grinning a bit.

    She eyed him, looking him up and down, then glanced at the city they had to venture into. She let out a sigh as curiosity got the better of her and asked, "You're blind--how the hell do you get anywhere without, like, running into a freakin' wall?"

    Shaun blinked and his head bobbed from side to side as he gave it some thought. "Uh, I guess… It's, like, a sixth sense? Or a fifth for me? I 'unno exactly; it's sorta hard to explain. But I guess having good ears helps."

    Now Cori frowned, expecting a little more intelligent answer than "good ears help." She shook her head. "Okay, never mind. Forget I asked," she muttered, turning on her heel. "Let's just.. Just c'mon. We got some gifteds to find."


    The two young government field agents were silent as they focused on fighting their way through wave after wave of people. Whenever there was a chance to turn down a narrow, empty alleyway, they did, simply because alleys weren't crowded. And it was also more likely that gifteds were hiding somewhere that they couldn't be seen. It's not that they're that easy to pick out from a crowd--they looked like normal humans usually. Perhaps they just felt safer out of sight.

    Cori, though, couldn't stop herself from glancing back every couple of minutes to make sure the blind boy wasn't tripping over trash or running into brick walls. Amazingly though, when ever she did check, he was keeping up rather well. Never falling more than ten feet behind--even in crowds of people. Because of it, her expectations of him rose, but only a little. She also became annoyed and envious that someone without sight could follow her better than she could Damon on her first day.

    Soon, she found herself walking a little faster. And when he was still keeping up, she a little faster than that. When he was still keeping up, it took all restraint to break into a frustrated run. Finally, she just stopped altogether in front of a hot dog stand, winded even though she tried not to show it. Shaun stepped beside her and grinned. "Lunch break?" he questioned, eye brows raising excitedly.

    He didn't even break a sweat, she realized, eyes narrowing slightly. Then she drew in long breath and let it out as she counted to five and spoke. "Sure, lunch break," she said, sarcasm dripping from her words. "Not that we caught a gifted or anything." Then she looked to the stand, her nose wrinkling at the hot dogs, ketchup, and mustard. "I'll skip lunch. You got money, Hunter?" she asked. "I'm going to go ahead."

    He gave a nod and pulled a thin wallet out of his pocket. "Uh, I think I got enough," he said meekly, grimacing as he pulled out what he had--a five dollar bill. It was folded in the most peculiar way, and Cori assumed he folded each kind of bill differently.

    "Smart," she muttered, glaring at the money. Then she looked to the hot dog stand man, (who was frowning back at her) gave a sweet and innocent grin, and looked back to Shaun. "Well, then, just catch up when you can. I'll be making way toward the park--you know where that is?"

    He was just handing the man the five dollars when she asked. Then he answered, "Well sure, I've lived here--"

    "Great!" she interrupted. "Take your time, then." She patted him on the back and quickly turned her back. Then, she started walking, happy to be free of her babysitting job--at least for a little while.


    Cori was now well ahead of Mr. Hunter and she planned to keep it like that until the shift was over. She had just two gifteds to bring in and hell-ooooo promotion. Of course, she was used to having at least one, capable partner at her side when she was out and about. The thought quickly slipped away, though, being overtaken by her confidence. She was the best, and she planned to keep it like that. She didn't need anyone's help. Especially anyone who's blind.

    The park was only a few blocks away now, and she supposed that she should wait for Hunter or something when she reached it. The idea made her sigh in pure annoyance, but she'd just have to deal with it. She didn't want to completely ditch him--Damon wouldn't like that. So, she kept walking, but slowly. She was just contemplating about moving even slower when she saw him.

    It wasn't that he was playing guitar on the street corner, it wasn't the crowd of people clapping along to the beat, or even that he was playing on the street for money even though he wore a good, hundred dollar pair of sunglasses. It wasn't even that he was wearing a heavy, winter jacket in the middle of a warm fall. See, that was all the usual things to expect from people in this city--everyone was so strange.

    What it was, that did catch her eye, was the reel of fire that was just feet behind him. It flickered to the beat of his ear-catching strumming. (Really, the music would drag you away from even your most important tasks--it was just so sweet) It was directly behind him, so it was no surprise that the people listening him didn't see it. She gave a little grin and looked back; it didn't look like Hunter was going to catch up any time soon so she promptly pulled a pair of handcuffs from her back pocket. Despite the fact she was barely fourteen, she stepped through the crowd and promptly started to speak, her voice unwavering as she confronted the gifted.

    "Gifted, no? Yeah, you're under arrest," she said flatly, eyebrows raising as she gave a smirk.

    The music abruptly stopped and the older boy looked between the crowd of people, the handcuffs, and the agent's cocky red eyes. He swallowed, his mind racing with adrenaline and fear and something else, that she couldn't quite identify. Then he pursed his lips before dropping the guitar and running into the alley behind him, dispersing the flame.

    She blinked once, looked back at the crowd of people who stared blankly back. Then she shrugged and bolted after the gifted, leaving the crowd to disperse into their own groups and go about their personal business. A few of them even collected their money (and the money of others) that they had planned to give to the guitar player.

    He was fast, Cori noted, as she ran right on his tail. She was just as fast, and only had trouble keeping up when he took an unexpected twist or turn, or led her down into an unknown area. But, that was very rare, and she found herself closing in on his heels with each passing second. The running, though, even for someone who was so in shape, was not easy. It seemed to never end and she found herself gasping for air, but extremely happy when they finally hit a dead end.

    "No…where… for you… to go… now," Cori panted. Her vision was only slightly blurry, but she couldn't completely read the expression on his face as she swung the handcuffs around on her hand. "So, you… comin' quietly?" She took a deep breath before continuing. "Or do you wanna make this hard on yourself?" She could see that he was grinning now, and it puzzled her.

    "Only person it's gonna be hard on, is you," he laughed, removing his sunglasses to reveal he was staring, not at her, but just past her shoulder. "And, I gotta say, I just might have a hard time sleeping tonight, knowing I helped kill of such a young agent," he added sarcastically as Cori spun around.

    She gasped and staggered backwards, wondering how she let such a big guy get behind her. It only took seconds for his fist to close around her small neck and pull her forward again. She dropped the handcuffs, instead latching her pale hands onto his large arms as she struggled to escape his grip. The more she fought, though, the more energy he put into the hold.

    "L-lemme go!" she choked out, finally giving up the struggle as her face flushed a dangerous red. He gave a small, somewhat sober, smile and his grip loosened--but only slightly. And she instantly sucked in a lungful of air, her skin fading back to its normal, pale white.

    Another effect took place, though. She had planned to fight back as soon as he even loosened his hold, but she suddenly didn't feel up to it. She also noticed that his pale green eyes were brightening as the moments passed by. What she couldn't see, was that her bright, crimson eyes were fading to a pale pink as the energy was being pulled out of her. Soon she could barely speak and her arms dropped to her sides. It's his power, she realized drowsily.

    The man then dropped her onto the pavement and it took all of her remaining energy to roll onto her back. Then the young pyrokinetic was gazing over her too, giving a wild smirk. She couldn't hear what they were saying as the exchanged words, but it seemed like the older one--the life stealing one--was keeping him from burning her to ashes.

    I have to get out of here, she thought to herself, her vision blurring slightly. She could reach for her gun, sitting snuggly in her holster, but she had absolutely no energy to be quick about it. It'd be a slow, slow process, and if they saw her, she'd be in even more trouble than she already was. It was either that or nothing, she realized, and slowly but surely, her hand started to inch for the gun, her eyes focused on the gifteds around her.

    "Hey! You ain't--" the younger gifted started to say, but he was cut off and sent stumbling forward, over the albino, and into the life-sucker. And then both of them tumbled back and onto the ground, shocked and confused.

    Cori drew in a painful breath and managed to turn her head toward her savior. "H-Hunter?" she murmured.

    Shaun was grinning, but now he frowned slightly. "Yeah, but you don't sound too good," he observed, head tilting slightly. "Can you get up?"

    She burned away more energy to uselessly shake her head to the blind boy. She felt so weak that she could cry. "Th-the big one. He did something--I 'unno wha', but I can barely.. Barely move," she said. "And the other one. He's a pyrokinetic." She swallowed as a bead of sweat rolled down her cheek.

    "A pyro-wha-now?" Shaun questioned, blinking a few times. "I don't know what that--"

    Cori couldn't listen anymore, she finally went unconscious before he could finish his sentence.


    "Cori, Cori. Oh, Al! Wakey, wakey!"

    Her eyes flickered opened, revealing them to be their normal, bright red color. She could feel that she was still on the pavement and panic flooded through her as she shot up, all her senses fully aware of her surroundings. Her hand was gripping Shaun's arm as she gazed around the alley; the two gifteds were being dragged away in shackles by men from the government.

    "Wha… What happened?" she asked, looking to the blind boy.

    Shaun just shrugged modestly as she released him. "Uh, you blacked out, then the hot head tried attacking me. The big guy did too, but… yeah. No dice." He paused, and then added with a grin, "I know what a pyrokinetic is now, though."

    She frowned as he helped her up. She swayed slightly, but managed to straighten herself as she looked him up and down. His shirt--not that it looked good before--was ripped. What skin you could see was bruised and he looked even more tired than he did when they first left the government building. "You," she started, looking back at the gifteds as they were almost out of sight, "saved me," she looked back to Shaun, "and caught them."

    "Well, I only I had one pair of handcuffs but you left yours on the ground," he said, blinking.

    She was still scowling. "You're blind," she said flatly.

    "And you're not," he retorted.

    Cori scratched at the back of her head. "Okay, whatever. I'm going now. And you're--you're never working with me. Never."

    Now Shaun frowned. "But, you'd be, like, dead without me," he pointed out.

    She opened her mouth to say otherwise, but paused when a large hand was placed on her shoulder. "Uh, Damon," she greeted, wondering if he had heard the whole thing. That wouldn't be good, she knew. And she assumed he did, because he made a point to ignore her.

    "Hunter," he said, smiling, "nice job. I think you and Ms. Woods work pretty nicely together." Shaun didn't say anything; he kept his lips pursed into a narrow, angry line. So, Damon gave a shrug and looked to Cori, instead. "I think you're stuck with him, Cori. Whether you like it or not."


    "Again, no buts. I'm the boss, remember?"

    Cori looked between him and Shaun, cheeks flaring red with anger. Then she let out a muffled scream before turning her back on both of them. "I'm going home!" she snapped as she started to leave. Damon called after her, but she ignored it and kept walking. She was going to be working with a blind guy. For a good, long time too--by the way the boss made it sound, anyway. She did not look forward to it, and she promised that Shaun Hunter would never outshine her.