Julian stepped into the alley, placing a hand against the wall beside him as he walked. The alley was completely pitch black, so he guided himself by
following the wall.
He released a heavy yawn, his eyes closing again... eh, it doesn't matter... he can close his eyes... it looks exactly the same, closed or open...
everything's pitch black anyway... everything...
He didn't know how long he walked before he began to slip into a light sleep...
"Hey." A demanding voice broke through his tired mind, forcing him to awaken, now suddenly alert.
He was near the end of the alley, only yards away... it wasn't pitch black anymore... a street light just across the road was visible, though that's
not where his attention was at all.
Two men stood in front of Julian, staring daggers at him. One of them was an average looking white guy, sagging pants, wife-beater tank top, and a
crooked hat... the other was dressed in a similar way, but he was African American.
"Are you a Christian?" The white man asked.
Julian blinked, staring at them both, still spacey from his lack of sleep.
"Yes I am." He replied. "Why do you ask?"
The two men looked at one another, then back to Julian.
He didn't entirely understand his situation, until someone made a move, and he couldn't hope to escape...
A fist shot into Julian's stomach, sending the wind right out of him... his eyes snapped shut, and more fists hit him... he hit the ground before he
knew it, and the pain overcame him... it was almost like a dream, how terrifying it was, how much pain he was in... the two men were on top of him,
shouting vulgarities, punching, and kicking for what seemed like hours...
"Hey." A voice came.
The beating ceased.
The two men reared, looking backwards.
A figure stood at the end of the alley, watching them.
It was a girl, a rebellious-looking one, wearing a sleek leather jacket, cargo pants with chains attached, and a spiked collar. Her hair was fairly
short, though she had two long bangs framing her pale face... her hair was a deep black, though her bangs were decorated with brilliant blood-red
Her cerulean blue eyes were fixed on them, her expression darkening.
"C'mon." One of the men said, patting his companion on the shoulder. The two men headed down the opposite end of the alley, and after a moment, they
were out of sight and gone.
The girl squinted.
If she hadn't imagined it, there was something lying there, in the alley, on the ground... something big, wearing a coat... a body...
Her heart began to pound.
She swore, hissing a vast amount of curse words... then approached the body, kneeling beside it, examining it.
"Are you okay?" She asked, placing a hand on the guy's shoulder.
Julian, lying on his side, remained totally still, waiting for the breath to return to him... he began to sit up, his abs tightening painfully,
attempting with all their might to suck in some air...
"Fine..." He choked, barely speaking. "I'm alright. Thank you."
"You sure?" The girl asked again. "There's blood on your..."
Her fingers gently grazed his face, just at the corner of his mouth. His lip was beginning to bleed.
After a moment, she swallowed, withdrawing her hand.
"Sorry." She said.
"No, don't worry." Julian told her kindly, his voice still rough. He blinked several times at her, wondering why he couldn't see her very well...
then, he realized that his glasses had been knocked off him, along with his hat.
Realizing the same thing, She looked around, then picked up his glasses and hat. She handed them to him, and he placed the hat on his head, and
swiftly pushed the glasses back onto his nose.
"You want me to call the cops or anything...?" The girl asked.
Julian peered at her, now able to see her clearly.
Though she looked rough enough to stomp someone's teeth in, there was an aura about her that contrasted her tough appearance... she had a certain
innocence about her that was unexplainable.
"No thank you, really, you've been kind enough." Julian told her, smiling politely.
"Are... you sure?" She asked.
"Yes, thank you."
There was a pause.
Julian gulped, wishing the air would refill his lungs faster.
After a moment, Julian stood, leaning against the wall, gritting his teeth, ignoring the spiraling pain up his left leg.
The girl stood as well, watching him.
"You okay?" She said.
"Yes." Julian lied, wondering what on earth was making his leg throb so badly.
When he stood upright, a sharp pain pierced through his ankle...
Oh, Julian realized, looking down. My ankle is twisted.
"Y'don't look okay." She said.
Julian took a moment, biting his lip.
"I'm fine." He said. "Er... I'm Julian, nice to meet you." He said a moment later, extending his hand formally.
The girl hesitated, then returned the hand shake.
"I'm Zella, nice meetin' ya."
Zella smirked at him casually.
"So... um... what's up?" Zella said, looking down the alley, then down the street. "What was going on? Did you say something to those guys, or did
they just jump you outta nowhere?"
"I... I guess they had something against Christians." Julian said, tracing his finger and thumb around the edges of his cross necklace. "That's...
what they said."
"That's stupid." Zella told him, making a face. "So... well... what're you doing out here in the middle of the night, anyway?"
"Uh... on my way home." Julian told her, raising his eyebrows. "From church."
"Church?" Zella said. "At one in the morning? Church?"
"Er... I'm a youth pastor. Kind of." Julian said.
"Really?" She said. "You look my age."
"How old are you?"
"Yeah? Me too."
They stared at one another for a moment.
"Oh." They both said.
They paused for a moment, then smiled.
"Well... what are you
doing out here this late?" Julian asked.
Zella looked off for a moment, pondering.
"Just walking. Went to the club and had some water." She told him.
Julian stared at her.
"Oh." He said. "In... in the middle of the night? By yourself?"
"Uh... yeah. I live in a foster home with some people I really hate. So I stay out of the house. It keeps me from killing them." Zella explained.
"And... they just let you wander around in the middle of the night? In this neighborhood?" Julian asked, flabbergasted.
"They don't care." Zella said, shrugging.
Julian met her gaze, looking concerned.
"Well... listen, I know this might be weird, since I just met you... but... would you like to come spend the night at my place?" Julian asked her.
"What?" Zella replied.
"Sorry." Julian said. "But... eh... I know a lot of people in your position. I see it a lot, people growing up in those... places. I wouldn't wish it
on anybody. I try to help anyone out when I get the chance. I promise, I'm not being weird." He grinned, releasing a small cloud of breath.
Zella was quiet for a moment.
"I don't wanna impose--"
"You wouldn't be, I have two extra rooms." Julian said. "And I offered."
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