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Chapter 12

Ariel on the other hand, did not have such an easy task. She was supposed to live on the streets, and every now and then she would be scraping for food by looking through trashcans. She even had the thought of robbing others by threatening them with her twin swords and fighting, but she knew better than to stoop to the level Mike had shown her. It was almost midnight and she would go hungry once again. Behind a dark alley, Ariel lurked around finding shelter but stopped. Realizing how pathetic she had become, she walked the streets for a while and stopped at a nearby pond.

“How, could he be so cruel to me? After everything we had been through…” she said wallowing in sadness.
Suddenly she sees a familiar stranger in front of her; those same glistening, understanding eyes that sparkled in the moonlight, his face stern and powerful.

“Ariel…” said the familiar face.

Squinting her eyes to see in the moonlight she asks “Who…who are you?”

“I know what happened with Mike,” he said grimly

“Don’t you ever mention his name again!” she screamed.

Tension grew in her body. She was still unable to handle tough situations and her emotions still carried her; leaving her mind to her instincts. Suddenly she pulls both swords off her back and the stranger’s eyes widen.

“DON’T!” he said in fear as she charges toward him.

He moves out of the way and twists her body so he faced her back; pulling her back towards his chest; separating both her arms with his and crossing his legs with hers leaving her unable to move.

“Ariel stop this, your only mad at him not me!” he said trying to calm her, but to no avail.

“Let go of me!” she screamed.

“I won’t!” he huffed. “Not until you calm down.”

She drops the heavy swords on the grass and he loosens his grip, only to feel a powerful elbow hit him right on the stomach. She grabs his right arm and flips him onto his back.

“Calm down? Let’s see you calm down after I mangle your face!” she screamed

“Ariel, NO!”

She attacks him full force using her own hands, not knowing that her twin swords were available right in front of her. This was more personal, she didn’t want to kill him easily but with her bare hands.

“LISTEN TO ME!!!” screamed the out of the breathe stranger. “That guy who you call Mike, is not who you think he is. His name is Alex and he was manipulating you this whole time.”

He took her by the arms and wrapped them around her chest and dropped her down on her knees. He too wrapped his arms around her from behind and held her tight enough so she would stop squirming.

“I am a friend of both Mike and Alex. We used to hang out when we we’re in the police academy and we were even in the same force. But Alex became a criminal after he tried to kill me and…” he said quickly, but something stopped him.

He looked at Ariel from behind and he could feel her heart racing wildly. She was shivering from anger and all he could do was hold her. Getting a tighter grip, he spoke again.

“…after he tried to kill me and the real Mike. Apparently Alex also took Mike’s name as well.”

Slowly, she was able to put two and two together. She new that there was something wrong with the guy she spent so much time with. Closing her eyes for a brief moment, Ariel tries to suck in all her tears; she was not crying for a man so devious that he would play with her emotions.

“The boy whom you grew up with, whom you pretended to save world with, who never wanted to let you go when you left him…is unconscious right now,” he said gravely. “He was shot in the chest a couple months ago in hopes to save me and…well to protect you.”

“Me???” she asked in disbelief. “How?” she said quietly looking at the floor.

“I’ll tell you everything you want to know once we’re at the station. If you come with me, I can show you the real Mike and hopefully we can bring Alex to where he belongs,” said the Lieutenant.

“How can I trust you?” she said bitterly “I already have enough hell WITHOUT the help of the authorities. Don’t tell me that suddenly the world gives as much as a glance at me. It’s ridiculous, so I’m sorry if I can’t go down on my hands and knees begging for your help. How can I trust you, if all you police officers haven’t given me a reason to before?” she ended glaring at the floor.

“Well, I didn’t say you can trust me,” he said in his clear-cut manner. “But, I haven’t given you chance to distrust me either. So the game is in your hands. You can choose to trust in something again, or stay here like an idiot and wallow in your own self pity. If I were you I’d choose the former; things get less messy and depressing that way,” he lightly added.

What did this guy know about depression, Ariel thought. She contemplated long about how she was going to handle this situation. He loosened his arms around her and helped her get off the ground. They brushed off the excess grass on them and spoke again.

“So, truce?” he said sticking his hand out for a handshake. Ariel just stared at the hand, then at his face in ignorance.
“Don’t tell me I’m dealing with a germ-a-phoebe,” he said looking at her, trying to break the ice.

“It’ll just take me a while before I can do that again,” she said sadly.

“Fair enough,” he said brushing his hand on his pants. “Let’s go.”

As they headed towards his car, the sun burned in their eyes. It was already morning by the time their fight ended. But what will happen to Ariel now? Where was the real Mike, and what is his connection with Alex? Everything confused her and all she could do now was trust this officer, even though she was scared to do so. She didn’t know who he was to begin with.

“I don’t even know your name,” she said shaking her head.

He opened the passenger side door and looked directly at her, staring at those same big round eyes he saw when he first met her in the alley.

“It’s Joe. Joe Cheng.”

As they drove past the pond, Ariel became more and more light-headed from lack of sleep. The way the sunlight hit the water, made it seem like tiny diamonds, that shimmered all the colors of the world, were lightly dancing on a thin layer of ice, moving with the current’s beat and the wind’s rhythm that gently lulled her heavy eyes to sleep.



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