Rusted: No Rosy Glasses.
Chapter One: Welcome Home (The Unforgiven).
Rain dripped down on me, staring emptily up at the sky, red and black eyes blurring. Soaked in blood and rain, metallic-tasting and bitter. The rough brownish-red substance of rust on my sleeve. Staring up through a curtain of lead-colored locks.
Shaken with a weak cough, the sound of the rain a loud din of nothing but impacts. Banging and skittering, running off the metal and surfaces. My blood pouring out of me, accepting my death bitterly.
I coughed up more rust, trying to keep my blood in me. Dying like a dog in an alleyway. Seeing the bright silken silver falling around me. Tenkara Sorikami, the assassin of the League of Villains, was dying.
Slowly fading, the rain soaking me to the bone, hearing the whining of metal in my ears. A soft lullaby for a broken man. I looked down at my bloody and rusted hands. I lowered them and looked back up at the sky.
"Such a fool, right?" I muttered, "See where trusting her got you?" I coughed up a gob of blood and even more rust, I was losing my focus. I felt my vision swimming, not even noticing the azure blur touch down and come closer.
I let out what I thought was my final breath.
Warmth filled me, it felt nice. Like a campfire or a warm sunbeam. My eyes didn't open, not that I needed to. I wanted to stay, but the warm faded slowly.
No. No. no no. Let me die. Let me stay.
I woke up, my eyes wide, darting, taking in the room and everything. It was morning, and I could feel bandages on my arms and legs, my shoulder was heavily bandaged and on the side table was the bullet that pierced it.
My eyes squinted, trying to focus as I lifted my good arm to rub my eyes. It was bright in here. I sighed and looked back up at the ceiling. What the hell saved a fool like me? I saw my coat, once rusted up and soaked in blood, completely pristine?
I noticed the bullethole in the shoulder. Reaching out and taking it, I put my finger through it. It went through and out the back and I winced at the pain in my other arm where the bullet hit. I laid back down as the door opened, revealing a doctor and a nurse.
"You're one lucky young man, Mr. Sorikami," he said, "The bullet passed through your shoulder cleanly enough, but you lost a lot of blood and you suffered a cardiac arrest. You've cheated death, young man," the doctor said, his eyes looking at me with some sort of awed sympathy.
"Who saved me?" I asked.
"A hero did. A new one. Her name's Nejire-Chan, she never left your side after the surgery until she knew you were going to be alright. You're very lucky," He said, before continuing, "She found you bleeding out while on patrol last night, and took you here to be treated. You had multiple lacerations and that gunshot wound," I looked down at myself.
"Why would she save a piece of trash like me?" I mumbled, not knowing what to do. All that was asked of me was efficiency and strength. All that I done… covered in blood and wounds, rusted and old.
No plan, no hope, no future. I hadn't been in here long, but still. I had a lot of time to think about what I've done. Hurting people by making them cough up razors or driving their cars into crashes.
Crazy in love with a girl that loved me when I was bathed in it. The sticky and red liquid that flows through us all. Clotted and ancient arteries clogged with rust. It wasn't right. I should've run away from the villains, not towards them!
I should've just kept walking. But no, I didn't. So here I was, in a hospital bed, healing, living one more day. A day locked in limbo. I sighed and counted the ceiling bumps. I still was bored. It was really boring!
I needed to go out. I needed to leave. So I did. Refracting and vanishing, my body still aching a little, I always recovered quickly enough. The sterile cold and the sterile halls whispered with my steps.
I walked out, refracted and my coat billowing behind me, seeing the daylight of Mustafu before me. I walked and kept walking, my boots and shirt still smeared with my own blood but covered by my clean coat.
I wanted to just get out of town. I had no money or a house, a seventeen year old former villain wandering around for no reason has no use to society. I then felt something slam into me, a loud, girlish scream followed. On the ground was a little girl with messy off-white hair and red eyes, tears in the corners of them.
"Hm?" I grunted, hearing running in the distance, and two men yelling at each other in plague masks. I swept the girl into my coat and refracted. Seeing her bandages and how hell-bent those men looked to take her back.
"Where is she?! She ran out here!" one of them snapped, "The boss is gonna KILL us thanks to you!"
"Shut yer mouth! As long as we get her back we'll be okay!" the other snapped back.
'Targets acquired… leave one alive for interrogation purposes. Make sure the witness doesn't panic. Metal objects acquired, needles and razors for the casualty. And if the other makes it back, Scissorneck, wait no, that'd just piss their boss off quicker.' I thought, revealing myself and looking down at the little girl in my arms.
"Close your eyes," I said. The men glared at me as the little girl shut her eyes tightly, clinging onto me and burying her face into my shoulder. They looked like small fries.
"You want this girl? Get through me first," I said flatly. I had nothing left to lose, so maybe going out saving this girl would gain me something to live for. So here I was, standing between two men, with a little girl in my arms.
"Hahahahahaha! Really? Two against one?!" I felt the girl's breath hitch, and her grip tightened.
"P-please win," she stammered. I felt my cheeks warm up. So earnest and small, just so innocent. I looked at the men and back at her. The first one charged at me, this guy had an odd muscle quirk, but it was easy enough to counter. Just make him trip on a knife, faceplant, and the force would probably be enough to stun him so I could end it fast.
Why did I spare them? I just wounded them and ran with the girl in my arms, refracting mid-dash. I needed somewhere to plop this girl down where those bastards wouldn't get her. So here I was, going towards the one place I knew where she could be safest. UA High School, the place where I'd go if I had the option.
I had no other alternate. I was just… lethal. Born lethal. I refracted, picking her up but she gripped me harder.
"Noo!" she exclaimed, "No no!" she squeezed me harder. I sighed and unrefracted, a few feet away from the school, "What is it?" I asked.
"I wanna stay with you! You remind me of my Daddy!" she sobbed, I sighed and petted her hair.
"It's okay," I said, "I'm far from perfect, but… I have to leave you somewhere safe," I stated. The little girl wouldn't budge. I huffed and she looked up at my broken face. She clung to me, crying into my shoulder.
"Nn…" she sighed, "D-don't leave, d-d-Daddy…" I broke and put her down, letting her hold my hand. This was the moment I was waiting for.
A path to redemption.
Adjusting was hard, but when you were a ghost, it didn't matter. Working at a low-paying job just so I could feed my daughter, Eri, it was worth every night I had to go hungry. I never accept handouts, or anything like that.
"Daddy? The other kids at school make fun of me for just having a Daddy," she said, I was wiping the dirt and blood from yet another cut on her cheek, "And they hurt me…"
I kissed the band-aid I put there, "Eri, you know what I do?" I asked, remembering my school days was like pulling teeth, but it still hurt to reopen that chestnut.
"What?" she asked.
"I listen to my angry music, okay? So this weekend, let's find you some!" I exclaimed, Eri hugged me tightly, kissing me on the cheek. I smiled for the first time in a long while. I made sure to live within walking distance of her school and would shadow her to the front door. Once that was done, I left on my patrol.
I stalked. I gawked, lording over the others. Too tall, too much of a difference. My 'patrols' were just an excuse to move on. Just an excuse to feel like I was doing something. Drifting through the streets, my coat billowing.
The other people looked at me strangely, my six-foot-three frame, long silver hair and dark brown eyes hinted at my more European heritage. My skin was a little tanner than most. I sighed and continued on, always watching for trouble.
It always seems to find me, I can't go far without somebody being in trouble. I just soldiered on. Mere inches away from being homeless with a little daughter that I'm certain would go into the system, scared and alone, a target for those fuckers with the masks.
I never wanted that to happen, so I opened my hand and concentrated, 'Come on, come on… you were basically a mini-bank for the League. They just asked you for change and you just plopped it right out of your hands!' I thought, 'Dammit! Work, you sonuvabitch! Yen, right now, in your hand! Come on!' It didn't work. I couldn't do it. I remembered that I starved myself so Eri could eat.
I drained out my pocket money for her, getting her all the things she needed. All I forgot was myself because she was more important than me. Returning back to the streets I used to call home after my mom died and my dad disappeared was harder than I thought it'd be.
I huffed, sitting on a bench, 'The one way out and I can't do it? How stupid am I?' I thought, ignoring the gnawing hunger until I couldn't anymore. Something smelled divine. Something smelled like God took a dump. Even shit would taste awesome.
I followed the scent to that girl from days ago, my quirk could only make me refract before I started to rust. So I did that. The girl was pretty up close, wide blue eyes, a bright smile, and long, soft looking hair that tapered down into a twist at her waist.
All I registered was the food. I loomed over her, 'Gimme. Gimme gimme gimme!' I could only summon a needle, and it shot out of my fingertip, poking one of the sandwiches. The girl looked around in confusion.
"A needle? Where'd you come from, little guy?" she asked. I moved my finger and the sandwich flew right at me. She shot up and I was carrying the thing, my refraction wearing off and I hauled ASS.
'Mine! Mine! Mine! YEEEEESSSS!' I thought, 'One more for Metallica!' I sprinted away before being tackled down onto the ground and a weight on my lips. Staring right into those blue eyes, feeling her lips on mine for some weird reason. She sat up, holding up the sandwich.
"Haha! Got it!" she exclaimed. I still laid there, in shock at what just happened. She looked closer, seeing my silver hair and my red and black eyes due to my quirk being active. Her head tilted, and I gulped.
"Wait a minute… you're that guy I saved!" she exclaimed, "Wow! You're really strong!" she seemed so happy, "You can have it, 'kay?" I sat up and started to chow down, snatching it from her and shoving it in.
"Wait, aren't we gonna talk about what you did?" I asked, "Y'know, the… the kiss?" she smiled and helped me up.
"What about it? It was nice!" she exclaimed, "So, what've you been up to?"
I sighed and licked a few things off my hands, she stuck close by and smiled. I looked away. It was a mistake. A mistaken kiss. I never expected it, but… why was I rusting out of my eyes? It just didn't make any sense.
"So…" I said, "What's your name?" she grabbed my hand and grinned.
"Well, I'm Nejire Hado! And you're?" she nudged me gently, I sighed.
"Name's Metallica, well, my former alias. My name's Tenkara Sorikami," I said. I wondered why she saved me of all people, "So, uhm… why'd you do it?"
Nejire tilted her head in that adorable way, "Because you were hurt, and you were a good guy!" she declared, "You were just doing what you had to. Just like with the sandwich! Man, you were hungry, huh?"
"Yeah, I had to feed my kid, she's growing really fast, and I can only make enough Yen for one of us, if starving myself is required, then that's fine," I said, Nejire looked me dead in the eyes.
"That's not good, not good at all! You have to take care of yourself, too! You know what? Come work with me! It's cool, it's fun, and we need the extra help!" she insisted, "So… let's go!" she yanked me along.
"Wait, wait, wait! Nejire! Stop!" I snapped, "Do you understand that I- Mm!" she shut me up with another kiss, making my cheeks heat up. She pulled back with a bright smile.
"Aww! You're so cute when you're flustered!" she exclaimed.
"Cute?" I echoed, seeing her nod.
"You're kinda scary-cute! Scary because I won't know where you are a lot, but cute when you're all blushy and shy!" she grabbed my hand, "I got a place near my agency! Or well, my boss's agency," she explained, "It's near UA, too! And… weeeelll… I only have two bedrooms!"
"I'll sleep on the couch, my daughter can take the other room," I stated.
"Aw! You're no fun! I'm offering you a place to stay and you won't see what happens?!" she gasped.
"Says the girl who kissed me to take her sandwich back," I huffed, "Look, if you didn't notice that needle, Angel? I'd be long gone," I leaned close, "So find yourself lucky I find ya to be cu-" I slapped my hand over my mouth. Her eyes shined brightly as she floated up, making me jerk back, getting in my face again.
"Oh? What were you gonna say, Metallica?" she asked viciously.
"I said, I find ya cute! Not that I like ya! You kissed me! Not the other way around!" I snarled, "Jeez, you little harpy!" She grinned and I checked the time, 'Shit, I might be a little late picking Eri up…' I thought.
I refracted, "I'll be on my way, meet back here by tomorrow morning, if you're late, I'll reconsider my acceptance," I walked away.
"Hey! I'll see ya then!" she called after me. I sighed and walked faster, I kept on walking fast and made it back to the school, seeing Eri waiting for me and she saw me coming up, running towards me.
"Daddy!" she tackled into me, squeezing me tightly. I picked her up and hugged her back.
"Hey Lil' Sandman, how's it been?" I asked.
"I had a better day!" she exclaimed, "I drew this!" she held up a picture of me fending off those bastards in the masks with the words 'My Hero' scrawled under my feet. I smiled.
"Aw sweetie! That's great!" I gasped, "Y'know what? When we get to the new house, let's hang it up, okay?" I asked, she tilted her head to the side.
"New house?" she wondered.
"Yeah! I met up with the hero that saved me in that alleyway! So, we're movin' up, sweetie!" I exclaimed. Eri was still confused, her little face concentrated on the puppy eyes. I flinched.
"Eri, honey, I can't raise ya in a dump. I wanna raise ya right, I didn't have the best time growin' up," I admitted, "Dad disappeared, Mom died, never really had a family," I walked back home, we were kinda squatting there, and I took off my coat.
"Daddy… are you sad?" she asked.
"Yeah, I am. But I gotta stay strong, this is the next step. So, when you wake up tomorrow, it'll be a new day," I said. She cuddled against me, wrapped in my coat. I was a survivor and Eri was too.
We had a way out, and it just took a Blue Angel to show me the way.
Dream the same thing every night
I see our freedom in my sight.
New blood joins this earth…