It was a nice town. It was a nice town in the way that everyone under the age of 21 hate to live there because there is nothing to do. They all look forward to leaving and some of them actually make it. Most of them end up settling down into management positions at whatever store they were working at during high school. The rest of the world isn’t for everyone. A little further up the hill from Ben a car began rocking steadily on its shocks. The sun was setting, the fire flies were out love apparently was in the air and it became one of those long low slow spring evenings that made him truly grateful to have lived this long. It is a nice town. He aimed to keep it that way, and that meant dealing with the big black oil slick of a military base that percisted out on the fringes. That is for a different day though, this is one of the few spots where you can sit and not see any hint of it. He could see his house, her house, and his house. There they all were, he saw their places of work, the high school that absorbed their free time in exchange for knowledge. He saw where the teachers he liked lived, where the kids can buy alchol without being carded, where they buy ecstasy, and where some especially sad ones liked to go to huff glue. He knew the whole town inside and out. Of course it wasn’t a very big town and it didn’t take that long. Smiling he closed his book which had long ago fallen by the wayside. The fading light didn’t leave enough for reading anyhow and soon it would be time to head home for dinner, a shower, homework, and a routine. Two years and he still couldn’t wrap his head around it, and now he didn’t have to. He let out a sigh, “We need to work on your stealth skills” Ben turned around to see Ashley floating an inch above the ground.
“You still rustle the grass as you pass by over it, and you breathe pretty heavily when you levitate like that”, daintily she stepped down onto the ground, “Fuck, don’t you ever let your guard down?”
Chucking a bit Ben smiled, “If it isn’t down here it won’t be down anywhere. Sorry kiddo. So what brings you up here?”
She just sort of shrugged her shoulders and sat down uncomfortably close to him, “I dunno I heard you come up here and I was just wondering why? I mean you seem to know so much about all of us, and the stuff we can do, and no one knows anything about you at all”
Ben nodded, “You were there when Jessica freaked out weren’t you? That is because of what she saw, images and feelings from before. Do you really want to know?”
She hesitated a bit, the insident still fresh in her mind. She had never heard anyone scream like that, not even in the movies. It felt like it when down inside your marrow and sat there, a palpable force of misery that had to be expelled from her lungs lest it destroy her, even through it would just rot everyone around her. Things like that don’t happen every day. Not in this town at least, not anywhere, yet there it was. This terrible event, and it is all because of the strange slightly gangly kid sitting next to her, “I do want to know.”
“Really why? I mean I certainly didn’t want to go through most of it. It nearly drove Empath nuts, so why do you want to know so badly? Do you really think you could handle it? You who has never lost nothing more significant than a gold fish, you who has never broken so much as a bone, with your undivorced loving parents, and your high school popularity, do you really want to know what goes on inside of me?”
“Hey! Don’t talk down to me, I have problems you don’t know me or the shit I have to”.
Ben put his hand on her shoulder cutting her off with a smile, “You don’t get it. There is nothing wrong with your life. It is amazing, and you really should thank god every single day for what you have. I’m sorry it came out the wrong way. Your innocence is something to be treasured, it is worth protecting. It is the reason why you stayed back and I went on ahead”
She nodded and sat silent for a moment, “Do you think if we came with you, it would of gone better?”
Ben snorted, “You kidding me? Without a doubt. That warehouse should have been a Cakewalk with you me and Tank. He goes in first, draws fire and depleates their ammo supplies, while you provide targets and air support and do whatever it is I do. Man we could of ripped through there without a problem”
“No don’t go on and on about it.” She looked at him, lost, confused, “Look down on your hands. Were you ready to kill someone that day?”
“But you were hurt, almost killed, I don’t understand why wouldn’t want us to help”
Ben looked out over the town. Dusk is quickly becoming night, and as the car honked as it drove by, the passengers giggling like children who had just done something naughty. Ben looked after them perplexed, “Man that was barely 15 minuts, I don’t see how you kids get anything done in that time”.
She looked around confused, “What the hell are you talking about”
Ben pointed off at the retreating car, “They were most certainly fucking over there. They started just before you showed up. I don’t get it though, I mean you guys have all the time in the world and yet you all seem to rush through sex like it is some sort of 50 yard dash. You still a virgin?”
Her faced reddened, as she flapped her hands about her like fish who have recently rained down from the sky, wondering what they were doing there and why everything burned. She spluttered on like that for a bit before Ben cut her off again, “Sorry I keep forgetting that sex is something people don’t talk about in America. It prolly explains why that guy is strutting around like some sort of champion after his 15 minute mad dash to orgasm”
Ashley incredulously looked over at Ben who absentmindly chewing on a piece of straw, “You talk like you are some sort of Cassanova.”
He cocked his head to one side and thought for a bit, “You know I don’t know who that is, contextually he sounds like some sort of great lover”
She laughed, “Ben you have some of the strangest holes in your knowledge. They made a movie about him not to long ago, it was pretty good, you should check it out”
Ben nodded, and smiled softly, “See it’s moments like this”
“To answer your question. It is moment’s like this. This is why I didn’t want help. Once you pull that trigger it is something you can’t undo. It is something I was raised to do, nearly from birth. It has no more relevance to me as does any other perfectly other mundane thing. You aren’t ready yet, none of you are ready, and if I have my way none of you will ever be ready. It is something you should never ever have to do. I blew up that military base to keep it from happening. Honestly I don’t see why all of you are so willing to help out. Tom seems to be the only one with any sense, and that is only because I kicked him so hard he got some knocked down into him”
“Yeah what is up with that guy, even at school he was always such an asshole to you until one day you just went militant on him. What’s is it between you two?”
Ben thought for a moment, “I mess with his entire world. He is the quarterback of a football team that regularly goes to state, everyone loves him including yourself at one point, high school is the place where he is on the top of the food chain. I reminded him that there is a wider world out there, and that being the best at high school is a bit like being the fastest retard”
“Still he always had it out for you, ever since you showed up”
Ben shrugged again, “It’s simple really, I’m small, he’s big and he had a pecking order to establish and I showed him that I wasn’t even a part of his food chain. Then kicking his ass after he developed super strength, well that was just hilarious” he looked over at her and found to his surprise, her face had become the perfect image of fury.
“He could of killed you that day. He would of killed you had you not stopped him, doesn’t that make you mad. YOU would of died” She emphasized her point by jabbing at his chest with her finger. There are no excuses for that.
Ben nodded then pointed out twords the town, “There. Right there see that house on the poorer side of town?”
“He lives there. No one knows this except maybe his closest friends. He dresses in all those swank cloths, drives that big fancy truck, but he lives on the poor side of town. Also? As cliché as this sounds his dad beats the living shit out him most nights. He is an awefuly aggressive alcholic. I’ve actually had a run in with him once. Not that he would remember mind you, as drunk as he was. The point is that things aren’t easy for him, and try as he might to be the poster child for extra normalcy he just simply isn’t. In a way I sympathise with him”
“No fuck him, he’s an animal. I don’t see how you can care about that asshole”
With a sweeping arc Ben spread his arm over the town below, “It’s simple really, all of you matter to me. That’s why I’m here. Don’t look so surprised, here give me a lift down the hill, you need the practice”
She smilled as she grabbed his arm and then took off.