Mouldy Pastry and a Muscular Man.
Often, Taia would wake up early in the morning and groan, not wanting to get up. It wasn’t because she wanted to keep warm or because she wanted to sleep for longer like any normal teenager, but simply because she had no reason to get up, and nothing to look forward to. Yet, although she wasn’t entirely sure why, she didn’t think she’d like her life if it were any different. In a way, she rather enjoyed wandering around, fending for herself, eating and sleeping wherever and whenever she chose to, it seemed to give a certain twist to life that couldn’t be experienced through any other way. It wasn’t so good that it made her smile, but it was still a relatively nice sensation and that was enough for her. She didn’t wish for much in particular either, she made friends when she found them, but eventually she would lose them every time. Humans weren’t her only friends though, she’d met some surprisingly friendly animals - mainly rats - in her lifetime, the one she’d shared dinner with the previous night being one of them. Often, the rats were the better friends.
Which was why, when she was woken by the sound of gunshot and pounding footsteps, and when, a few moments later a tall, hefty man ran past, knocking over the bins and boxes that made up her home and scattering them along the alleyway and then planted his foot firmly in her rat-friend’s back, that she grew rather angry and decided to put up a fight.
The man continued running, as if nothing had happened, but Taia wasn’t going to let him get away.
“Hey!” She shouted, throwing a half-eaten sausage roll at him.
The man didn’t reply. He didn’t look back at her. He just continued to run.
“Hey!” Taia repeated, louder, “What are you playing at?”
Again, he ignored her. And Taia really disliked being ignored. She shook her head angrily before running after him, throwing more pieces of soggy pastry. She wasn’t the best runner in the world, she knew that, but when she had a good enough reason to do so, she could run. Kind of. Taia’s running consisted of the mad and very fast flailing of random limbs and hoping that’d be quicker that walking.
Realising she wasn’t going to be fast enough, she stopped, sighing, and lobbed a large, and exceptionally mouldy piece of pastry at him, and then grinned as she saw it fall through the air, meeting his eye level right where their paths crossed and she tried hard not to laugh as face and pastry met. Snarling, he turned to her, and she had to bite her lip to keep herself from laughing as she saw furry pieces of pastry falling from his face. But then her eyes saw more than just the pastry and her smile dropped, for she had realised for the first time just how muscular this guy was.
“Aw, hell...” She muttered.
The man leaped at her and took her to the floor, firing punches at her face. She needed him to stop or she’d be out before she’d even had the chance to strike, and she had a strange feeling that he wasn’t going to be happy just leaving her unconscious. She’d met people like this before - if she gave him the chance, he would kill her. She wriggled, trying to break free but he was too strong and his punches were still flying at her face. She began to flail desperately in an attempt to hit him. Eventually, her foot hit something other than floor and air, and the punches stopped momentarily. Taking her chance, Taia twisted, jabbing her elbow into his side and then bringing her legs up, kicking him in the groin.
The man doubled over, grunting, and Taia slammed her foot into his face. He staggered back, trying to regain his balance. She ran forward, jumped, flipped, and landed behind him. He turned, swinging his leg out, but it was too late and Taia leapt, slamming into him and sending him toppling backwards.
In any other fight, the opponent would be on the floor and Taia would be kicking his head so hard it wouldn’t be far from flying off his body, but as it was, and Taia wasn’t sure how, but the man stayed standing. Taia jumped to the side as he charged towards her, but he twisted at the last second and made a grab for her neck. He missed, pulling off her jacket instead. Growling, he threw it away, and the jacket fell to the ground with a muffled clatter.
The man frowned, looking inquisitively at the coat on the floor, and a boot slammed into his side. He stumbled away, then turned suddenly, and grabbed at her, getting her into a chokehold. Taia squirmed, kicked, and twisted swiftly, and then he was falling, but she grabbed him, and now she had the chokehold. The man tried to break free, but she tightened the hold. He tried to gasp for air, but she made the hold tighter still, and he blacked out. She let go and the man hit the ground with a thud.
She looked down at him, and slammed her foot into his chin a couple of times, knocking his head back, just for good measure. Then she stepped back, stamping on his toe, and looked down at him.
She heard more footsteps behind her, and she turned to see two figures running towards her.
The first was a tall, thin man, in a navy suit. His clothing seemed to hang shapelessly from his body, and his hat was tilted at an angle, casting shadow over his face.
The other was a girl, dressed completely in black, and even from the distance between them Taia could tell that this girl wasn’t much older than she was.
The girl, obviously noticing Taia, nudged the thin man who was running beside her, and he nodded, raised both hands and tapped his collar bones, before slipping one hand into a pocket and pulling out a gun. However, when they saw the man on the floor, they slowed and came to a halt in front of Taia.
The man stood still, both arms outstretched, hands holding the gun just a few feet away from her.
“Who are you?” He asked her sharply. His voice was solid, strong, yet silky, like velvet, at the same time. Taia frowned, wondering how that was possible.
“Who I am is none of your business.” Taia said, her voice just as firm as the man’s “What I would like to know, is who are you?”
“If your name is not my business, then why should my name be any of your business?” Taia might have thought he was joking, but he showed no humour in his voice, and the gun didn’t waver.
Taia shrugged. “You’re the one who suddenly barged into my home, and continued messing it up, after the last guy” She gestured to the cardboard boxes strewn about the alleyway.
The dark-haired girl raised an eyebrow, but remained silent. The man, however, remained unmoving, but not quiet.
“Last time I checked, this alleyway wasn’t owned by a 13 year old girl.”
“And when was that?”
“I’m struggling to see the logic in what you just said.”
“As am I. Now, I’m going to ask again, who are you?”
“I am me. And you are you.” Taia spoke steadily, looking straight into the man’s eyes. There was something odd about them. She couldn’t put her finger on what it was, but they definitely weren’t ordinary. “Now, I’m going to ask something. Why are you here?”
The thin man tilted his head slightly.
“We are here for him” he replied gesturing to the unconscious man on the floor.
“Well, it seems you’re a little late, does it not?”
“Not at all. It seems we got here just in time” He turned to his partner, but kept the gun in his hands “Shackles,”
The girl nodded and handed him some handcuffs. The man walked past Taia, knelt down beside the unconscious man, and put them around his wrists, before proceeding to inspect the injuries Taia had given him.
“What happened, then?” The girl said, a hint of confusion hanging in her voice.
“He hurt my friend, I hurt him.”
“Fair enough,” She nodded, “But, I don’t see anyone but you and him. Where’s your friend?”
Taia’s hands clenched into fists. “The word ‘friend’ doesn’t necessarily mean human, you know. It appears to be quite a common misconception.”
The girl raised an eyebrow. “Did you say you were homeless? It’s just that your vocabulary is pretty good, for a kid living on the streets.”
“No, I didn’t say a word about homelessness. It’s true, but it looks like you worked that one out all by yourself.”
The dark-haired girl tilted her head. “You don’t like me, do you?”
“Wow. You worked that one out too.”
She nodded. “I do tend to pick up clues; after all, I am a detective.”
Thanks For Reading!:D